This Star Wars and Singing in the Rain fan was so sorry to hear about the deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. When I was 17 years old, I attended an all day marathon of the Star Wars trilogy at the Wang Center in Boston. (And by Star Wars trilogy, I mean the original editions of the movies released between 1977 and 1983. The terms “special editions” and “Jar Jar Binks” weren’t a blink in anyone’s eye). Former WCVB host, Frank Avruch, the MC for the day, announced with awe that Carrie Fisher was only 19 years old when she appeared in the first Star Wars. Two years later, 19 year old me found myself back at the Wang Center this time to watch Singing in the Rain. Mr. Avruch, again, told the audience with awe, that Debbie Reynolds was only 19 years old when she danced and sang to “Good Morning” with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. Both women only 19 when they played the roles that made them famous, but, of course, that wasn’t all they shared.
The mother and daughter certainly had their ups and downs, both in their personal lives and in their careers. Their relationship was certainly very complicated and one that Fisher mined for material for books such as her novel Postcards from the Edge and her one woman show turned memoir Wishful Drinking. Fisher teased about her mother’s larger than life personality (something that she certainly seemed to inherit) and growing up in her shadow. Ironically, though, Debbie Reynolds was the one who often said that she later became known as “Princess Leia’s Mother”.
The only thing that brings a smile to my face about the untimely death of Carrie Fisher followed by Debbie Reynolds is that Fisher, most certainly, would greet her mother in the afterlife, “You just had to upstage me, didn’t you Mother?”
Celebrate the life of the two member of Hollywood royalty with a sampling of their books, movies, and TV shows from the library:
Carrie Fisher Movies and Television Shows
Star Wars (aka Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope): Who can forget the famous hairdo? Fisher’s relationship with Star Wars was about as complicated as the one she had with her mother, but she enjoyed ribbing her famous hairstyle from this movie.
The Blues Brothers: Fisher shines in a small comedic role who has an irrational hatred of the Blues Brothers
When Harry Met Sally: This is my favorite Carrie Fisher role, not named Leia. Harry and Sally may be the main characters, but Sally’s best friend, Marie, steals the movie, in my opinion.
The ‘Burbs: 1989 proved that Carrie Fisher could more than hold her own in comedies.
Soapdish: Fisher may have a small role as a soap opera writer in this farce, but the film is worth revisiting and always good for a chuckle.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery: Fisher plays the family therapist, helping Scott Evil deal with the fact that his father is the most evil man in the galaxy, something to which one of her other alter egos could relate!
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: Film maker and Star Wars fan, Kevin Smith, achieved a dream by getting Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker) to perform cameos in this film.
Sex and the City Season 3, Episode 14, “Sex and Another City”: Carrie Fisher (as herself) goes up against another Carrie, Sarah Jessica Parker’s, Carrie Bradshaw, in an unforgettable scene in a show full of them.
30 Rock Season 2, Episode 4, “Rosemary’s Baby”: Rumor has it that Tina Fey inserted a Star Wars reference into every episode of 30 Rock. Carrie Fisher guest starring would certainly count as one!
The Big Bang Theory, Season 7, Episode 14, “The Convention Conundrum”: James Earl Jones is the standout in this episode, but it’s fun to learn that Darth Vader isn’t above playing a practical joke on one of his children!
The Princess Diarist: I have to admit I didn’t love this latest (and, sadly, last) memoir from Fisher, but I do feel a little differently about Harrison Ford after finishing it.
Debbie Reynolds Movies and Television Shows
Singin’ in the Rain: This is a perfect movie, with great dancing, great acting, and wonderful comedic timing. Everyone shines in this farce that makes fun of Hollywood in all of its glorious weirdness. It’s such a treat watching Reynolds, Gene Kelly, and Donald O’Connor sing and dance to “Good Morning”.
I Love Melvin: Reynolds reunites with her Singin’ in the Rain co-star, Donald O’Connor
Bundle of Joy: This remake of Bachelor Mother is noteworthy for the fact that it starred Reynolds and her then husband, Eddie Fisher. Eddie would make headlines a few years later when he left Reynolds for a grieving widow, Elizabeth Taylor.
Tammy and the Bachelor: It’s hard to remember, but there was a time that Leslie Nielsen was known as a serious actor. He plays the object of affection for Debbie Reynolds’s charming Tammy.
The Love Boat, Season 4, Episodes 2 and 3: Unfortunately, this season of The Love Boat is not yet available on DVD, but Reynolds stands out in a sea (pun intended) of guest stars.
Wings Season 6, Episode 9, “If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother”: Reynolds guest stars as Dee Dee Chapel, who has a tense but loving relationship with her daughter. The episode is actually fairly serious, but Reynolds has great comic timing with series regular, Tony Shalhoub.
Mother: Reynolds returned to her film career to great reviews in this comedy co-starring Albert Brooks.
In & Out: From Crystal Bernard to Albert Brooks to Kevin Kline, Debbie Reynolds played everyone’s mother in the 1990’s.
Halloweentown series: Our teen librarian recently discovered that this movie is a big hit with some of the teens who visit our library. I like to think it’s because Debbie Reynolds (who plays the grandmother) transcends generations!
These Old Broads: Appearing with her once romantic rival, Elizabeth Taylor, amounts to the best revenge at their shared ex-husband, Eddie Fisher.
Will & Grace, Various Episodes: Reynolds introduced herself to a new generation as the mother to star, Debra Messing.
Connie and Carla: I saw this movie several years ago purely for the fact it was released at the height of my David Duchovny crush and was generally disappointed with the exception of a surprise and fun appearance of Debbie Reynolds singing with the main characters.
Welcome to a special holiday edition of Staff Reads!
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I also read Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman which was not nearly as good as “My Grandmother…” but still pretty good, and interesting to get to know more of the characters that we met in the earlier book as well.
I finally watched Die Hard all the way through as one of my “Christmas” movies this year, and I watched French Kiss with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline when I wanted something lighter and it was fun.
Luke’s Favorite Albums of the Year (at least the ones I got to listen to that I can remember off the top of my head)
I read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. This is billed as similar to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” but, unfortunately, I think it pales terribly next to that masterpiece. It is very rare indeed that I don’t finish a book once started, but this may have been one of those, if not for wanting to finish it for this review. Sadly, I found very little to like about this book: it was plodding; confusing in the use of multiple narrators and time frames; depressing in its themes, and gory. I don’t remember any humor at all in it, and honestly, why spend precious free time reading something not enjoyable. Perhaps the movie rendition is more agreeable, but someone else will have to find that out for himself!
A much more likable read was Maggie Smith: A Biography by Michael Coveney. This takes you through Dame Smith’s long and varied acting career, with many surprises along the way: Shakespeare in London with Olivier; Broadway (Lettice and Lovage); Hollywood (First Wives’ Club); back to London (Gosford Park). But, of course, there’s nearly a whole chapter on Downton Abbey, the classic that everyone recognizes. Enjoy the goodies here and much more!
Currently listening to Harlan Coben’s newest Mickey Bolitar mystery, Home. Coben is my favorite mystery/thriller author and he never disappoints. So far I am enjoying this book.
I have always loved Louisa May Alcott so decided to rewatch Little Women and watch for the first time Little Men the continuing story of Jo and the trials and tribulations of running a school for boys (then girls).
Listening to the mystery The Couple Next Door. A baby is kidnapped and the parents are suspected or was it someone else??
Watched:Don’t Breathe: One of the best scary movies that I’ve seen all year. I’d say it is more thriller than horror. Regardless, I was on the edge of my seat for most of the movie.
Played: Resident Evil 6 for PlayStation 4: Not the best Resident Evil game, but it is pretty fun and slightly creepy.
Read: My Damage : The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor by Keith Morris – Keith Morris was the first singer for Black Flag and went on to a bunch of different bands, most recently Off! This is the story of his life. While his life is interesting, the book needs to focus on the details of some of the events to bring the reader more into some of the scenes from Morris’s life.
Listened: Resolutions by Dave Hause – Hause was the singer of the Loved Ones. He is one of the few punk singers with an amazing voice.
The Martian by Andy Weir: For those of you like me who somehow missed the hype surrounding the Matt Damon adaptation of this novel, this is a story set in the not so distant future of astronaut, Mark Watney, who becomes stranded on Mars after the first Mars expedition goes terribly wrong. This novel is mainly written in epistolary form using Mark’s witty and sarcastic journal entries, with some third person points of view from the members of Mark’s crew and the various people on Earth working to rescue him. The use of science as Mark uses his botany and physics knowledge in order to survive is fascinating and even accessible to the science neophyte. Secondary characters are not well drawn and their points of view are often the weakest parts of the novel. Aside from that flaw, this thrilling and witty novel is a quick read for a holiday vacation!
Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor: This gripping and gritty memoir tells the story of Shaka Senghor, an African-American man went to prison for second degree murder at 19 years old. After his 19 year prison stay (which included seven off/on years in solitary confinement), Senghor became an advocate for prison reform and a mentor to African-American youth. The memoir fluctuates back and forth between Senghor’s prison term and his teenage years on the streets and is filled with descriptive detail. The book focuses on the harrowing conditions of prisons and statistics regarding the number of African-American men in prisons and Senghor takes responsibility for his choices and, surprisingly, does not come across as bitter for his experience. I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Senghor speak as a member of the panel, “Injustice, Incarceration, Invisibility” at the Boston Book Festival which led me to his book.
Seinfeldia by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong: Feeling in the mood for something light, last month, I picked up this book about the history of Seinfeld. Seinfeld is one of those television shows that glorified the mundane and made us viewers like four extremely unlikable people, and I admit they still make me laugh. (Well, Jerry, George, and Elaine still make me laugh. Kramer was best in small doses). This history relies, mainly, on interviews with a lot of the show’s writers, and it was fun and interesting to read that the majority of the story lines came from actual events in the writers’ lives. Festivus, for example, was a holiday invented by the father of Seinfeld writer, Dan O’Keefe. One of the main differences, however, is that the holiday was not celebrated near Christmas, but the O’Keefe family did air their grievances every Festivus! For Seinfeld fans, this was a great way to relive the show.
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling read by the author: I can’t do this book justice by explaining how much I’m enjoying it. Kaling (a native of Boston!), a comedy actress and writer late of The Office and currently of The Mindy Project muses on a variety of topics including the weirdness of the concept of bridesmaids, the importance of female friendships, and what it’s like being somewhat famous. Kaling adequately maintains the happy medium of being down to earth while also still admitting that she has opportunities afforded to her that are not available to others who are not celebrities. A lot of movie star memoirs either pretend as if their life is just like yours or name drop every other sentence. Kaling doesn’t do either and I’m really appreciating it.
Vera [videorecording] Set 1 & 2: Still loving Vera always enjoy Cantankerous investigators!
The Big Short [videorecording]: I don’t know much about the stock market and mortgages but this was scary and made me angry too!
A Drop of the Hard Stuff [sound recording] : [a Matthew Scudder novel] / Lawrence Block: Hadn’t read Lawrence Block in awhile I enjoyed this mystery and the characters.
Pretty Girls [sound recording] : a novel / Karin Slaughter: This was an interesting story and investigation but I wish there had been less description of the torture,rape and suffering that the female victims endured. I’ll have to associate Karin’s last name with that the next time I pick up one of her books to read.
Fallen [sound recording] : [a novel] / Karin Slaughter: Good Story – not as gory as another book I’d passed on written by Karin Slaughter.
Wildflower [sound recording] / by Drew Barrymore: Drew Barrymore is an exuberant person – I enjoyed listening to her life stories for awhile but her “JOY” became a bit overwhelming to listen to – Maybe I will have to read this one, as she notes at the beginning that it’s a book that you can pick up and read off and on…
Dark Tort [sound recording] / Diane Mott Davidson: Always enjoy these books about Goldy the Caterer – she figures out crimes as she bakes her way through her life. Often putting herself at risk in the process. Love the recipes that are included.
Smiley’s People [sound recording] / John le Carré: I’d never read any books by John le Carre – This recording was a full cast dramatization – while interesting – I just couldn’t get into it. Not a big fan of espionage. Made me think how my Mom grew up listening to stories on the radio before Television came into the picture.
Announcing the 2017 reading list for the Waltham Public Library Book Club!
We meet on the third Thursday of every month at 7:15 pm. Copies of the books are available at the Main Street circulation desk. The book club is open to everyone. No registration required. And we always provide snacks!
Welcome to a special Halloween edition of Staff Reads!
Jan: I read The Science of TV’s The Big Bang Theory by Dave Zobel. You definitely don’t need to be a wannabe nerd to enjoy this- it’s surprisingly funny enough for any fan. With a forward by Howard Joel Wolowitz (yes, the real live one) it gives you readable explanations of the places in the scripts that say [science to come]. One example: “Later…Sheldon tries to make a rhetorical point about scientific inspiration by asking scornfully, “Was the apple falling on Newton’s head…just an anecdote?” Gee, Sheldon, yes it was. There’s no evidence that Newton was ever hit on the head-other than metaphorically-by an apple…Surely anyone smart enough to invent calculus could figure out how gravity works without intervention from Granny Smith.”
Lisa: I’m reading Because of Mr. Terupt. I first noticed it when it was on the summer reading list of one of the local private schools. I was arranging books when I saw a different cover with wording that presented the book in a more detailed way that I found intriguing. “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” works for me in the figurative sense, but I frequently decide which books I’ll read by the appeal of their covers.
Since I was on vacation, I was able to indulge in my favorite pass
time–reading stories about musician and bands, preferably rock musicians and rock bands, and preferably Mick Jagger and the boys.
Ever since the Rolling Stones came on the scene in the sixties, Mick has been my soul mate. We are born on the same day–but not the same year. And I know if I ever found myself in his company, we would fall deeply, madly in love and no groupie or Yoko Ono type could ever break us or the band up. That’s how strong our bond would be.
I read first The Sun & The Moon & The Rolling Stones written by Rich Cohen. Cohen, a journalist for Vanity Fair, traveled with the band in the 1990’s and boy did he have fun. Cohen was also the co-creator of HBO”s failed Vinyl. I tried to like that show because my sweetie, Mick was involved in the writing, but I just couldn’t like it and I guess no one else did either. Cohen’s book begins with the fateful meeting of Jagger and Richards meeting while waiting for a train and Jagger was holding a clutch of blues albums and continues until Cohen comes on the scene. Well written and funny, Cohen loves the Rolling Stones as much as I do. Even though I knew many of the stories, Cohen brings his personal clever writing style to a great read.
Next I read Altamont: The Rolling Stones, the Hell’s Angels, and the Inside Story of Rock’s Darkest Day by Joel Selvin.
Of course, I had read about this and saw the documentary, but Selvin’s book is deeply researched. He spent over thirty years researching and interviewing about that fateful day, December 6. 1969. A fascinating, frightening tale of poor planning,a bad site, bad drugs, and Hell’s Angel’s paid with 500 dollars worth of wine to be security.
A not fun read for lovers of the Rolling Stones and lovers of disaster stories.
The Blue Bird [videorecording] starring Shirley Temple
Got to talking with a patron about movies and Shirley Temple’s movie The Blue Bird
came up, I hadn’t heard of this movie – So got it and tried to watch it was a different kind of character for her and I couldn’t get past what a brat she was so I didn’t watch long enough to see her transformation to a good little girl.
http://find.minlib.net/iii/encore/record/C__Rb2950294“>The One and Only Ivan [sound recording] / Katherine Applegate
This children’s book caught my eye when I was checking it in – I enjoyed listening to the story thru the voice/eyes of Ivan the gorilla…Happy and sad at times hearing the accounting of life in captivity for the animals.
Chasing the Night [sound recording] / Iris Johansen
Good story kept me on the edge of my ear buds!
A Little Unprofessional [sound recording] / Ron White
Don’t know why I thought I would like this…Too raw for me – not into anatomy and bathroom humor…
Should have noted the warning: “Parental advisory: explicit content.”
The Wind is Not a River [sound recording] / Brian Payton
Good story of survival and love during WW II – drew me in – but not fond of the ending…
The Church of Dead Girls [sound recording] : a novel / Stephen Dobyns.
A little strange – took me awhile to get into the story. Paranoia grips the town…
Size 14 Is not Fat Either [sound recording] : [a Heather Wells mystery] / Meg Cabot
These books are enjoyable but I think I’m getting to old for dorm room mysteries…
U Is for Undertow [sound recording] / Sue Grafton
Love the Alphabet Murder series…sad Sue is reaching the end of the alphabet!
Very Bad Men [sound recording] / Harry Dolan.
Very interesting mystery…
Cash Landing [sound recording] / James Grippando
Couldn’t get into the story – too many other books calling to me – may try again later.
Girl through Glass by Sari Wilson: In the 1970’s, 11 year old Mira Able is a promising ballet dancer with hopes of attending George Balanchine’s School of American Ballet in New York City. Flash forward to present day, Kate Randell is a former ballet student, looking to land a permanent job as a professor of ballet history. Told through alternating timelines, the book slowly reveals how the two are connected (though it’s easy to guess). The book’s descriptions are intense, fascinating, and often unsettling. I am a great fan of ballet, and I was fascinated to read about this world. There is a sense of mystery, and sometimes, the book seems to go for cliches, but overall, I enjoyed the book, even if I found it profoundly and occasionally disturbing.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, read by the author. (Downloadable audiobook): Coates (senior editor of The Atlantic) wrote this raw open letter to his son on what it means to be African-American in the United States. At times angry, this honest, loving, and moving letter to his adored son struck a nerve with this reader and gave me a lot of pause. Listening to Coates read made the experience all the more powerful.
Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill: Anyone who has watched the Zapruder home movie of the Kennedy assassination will recognize Mr. Hill as the secret service agent running towards Jacqueline Kennedy as she crawls onto the back of the car seconds after her husband’s shooting. Mr. Hill suffered much emotional pain after the shooting, thinking that he could have done more to prevent it. This book seems to have been a bit of a catharsis for him. He recounts, in a very respectful way, his time as Mrs. Kennedy’s personal Secret Service agent. The two embark on a friendly relationship and grow to highly respect each other. If you are looking for sensationalism, this book is not the right choice for you. But, if you are looking into a brief glimpse of a first family, or for the routine of a secret service agent, this is a fascinating read. I was really struck by the toll Mr. Hill’s work had on his life as a family man, and it made me a little sad for him.
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, read by Cassandra Campbell. (Downloadable audiobook): This book starts off with a doozy of a first line, “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” Marilyn and James Lee live in Ohio in the 1970’s with their three children, Nathan, Lydia, and Hannah. One morning, they discover that Lydia is missing, leading to a lot of self reflection for the remaining family members. Although Lydia’s eventual death serves as a catalyst, it is not the entire story, and instead sets up a series of flashbacks leaving the reader and the characters to wonder how this could have happened. Alternating third person points of view make for a well rounded set of characters, including Lydia. The haunting tone was beautifully conveyed through Campbell’s narration.
Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile: Charley Bordelon, mother of eleven year old Micah, formerly of Los Angeles and recently widowed, finds herself moving to Louisiana after inheriting her father’s sugarcane farm. She reconnects with several members of her family, including her estranged half brother, Ralph Angel, and grandmother, Miss Honey. The hardship of owning a farm, as well as the plight faced by the African-American farmer make this a very interesting read. While Charley is the main character and gets most of the character development, the side characters do get a decent amount of play. Be warned that if you are only familiar with the excellent television showing that is currently airing, the book is very different. There are several characters created for the show, and characters from the book who have been cut from the screen adaptations. Many of the characters who are in both versions only seem to share a name and nothing else. I was drawn to the book based on my enjoyment of the show, and I admit that I was a little thrown by the differences, but once I learned to see them as entirely separate properties, I just sat back and enjoyed both rides!
Pat A.:Crisis of Character. Written by a White House Secret Service Uniformed officer Gary Byrne. He was stationed outside the door of the Oval Office. He discloses his experiences with Hillary, Bill and how they operate. He considers the Clinton White House to be dysfunctional and scandalous. This is not the first book I have read about the Clintons.
Camila: I read and watched Still Alice. I watched first and I loved the movie, but I wanted to know more about it so I decided to read the book, what is always good. I read the book in portuguese edition that we have in Waltham Library Para sempre Alice.
Poltergeist – Some people say that the original Poltergeist is dated. I disagree!
Re-Animator – One of my favorite 80s horror movies. I’m too embarrassed to attempt to figure out how many times I’ve seen this movie.
Tucker and Dale vs Evil – Probably my favorite movie of the past 5 years. Such a great comedy based on horror scenes.
Reading: The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama & the Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The setting is Dharamsala, India, celebrating the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday. But it is more of a dialogue between the two major spiritual leaders on topics as varied as joy & suffering.
Read: Life Animated: a Story of Sidekicks, Heroes & Autism by Ron Suskind.
A Pulitzer Prize winner & father of 2 boys, and the process of communicating with his autistic son through Disney.
A fascinating portrait of family dynamics & the love of a supportive, nurturing family.
Watched the DVD – Genius w/Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth.
Engaging story of the relationship with book editor Max Perkins & various significant authors of the time.
The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd: This is the newest Bess Crawford story. It takes place during October, 1918. Bess is concerned about a patient who was brought to her medical station. He told the nursing staff that he is French, Bess heard him speaking fluent German in his delirium and he was wearing a tattered American uniform. Bess is injured during a strike and investigates this soldier while she is recovering.
Manitou Canyon by William Kent Krueger: This is the latest book in the Cork Corcoran series. If you like this series, this is typical and similar to the others.
Arrowood by Laura McHugh: Maureen had listed this book on the last blog. It is very good and very suspenseful, but I did not like how it ended.
So, in case you haven’t heard, there is an election on November 8, 2016. Eligible voters will not only be voting for a new President, but Massachusetts voters will also be voting for other elected officials and ballot questions. Every vote counts, including yours, so remember to cast your vote come election day. Here is what you need to know:
Voter Registration Information
The last day to register to be eligible to vote on November 8 is Wednesday, October 19, 2016. Don’t miss that date! There are several ways and locations in which you can register to vote.
Register to vote online through the Massachusetts Secretary of Commonwealth Website.
Register to vote in person at your city or town clerk’s office. Waltham residents can register to vote at the city clerk’s office at City Hall, Second Floor on 610 Main Street.
Pick up a mail-in voter registration form at the reference desk at the Waltham Public Library. Those must reach your municipality’s election commission before October 19, so pick up that form, soon!
Not sure if you are registered to vote? Check here, or call the city clerk at 781-314-3120.
Where and When to Vote
As mentioned above, the next election is on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Polling places are open from 7:00 am – 8:00 pm.
To find your polling place, click here. If you live in Waltham, you can call the city clerk at 781-314-3120. The polling places for Waltham are:
PLYMPTON SCHOOL 20 Farnsworth Street
WALTHAM HIGH SCHOOL 617 Lexington Street
KENNEDY MIDDLE SCHOOL MUSIC ROOM 655 Lexington Street
KENNEDY MIDDLE SCHOOL MUSIC ROOM 655 Lexington Street
MACARTHUR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 494 Lincoln and Lake Streets
NORTHEAST ELEMENTARY SCHOOL 70 Putney Lane off Warwick Avenue
FITZGERALD SCHOOL AT REAR 140 Beal Road at Candace Avenue
FITZGERALD SCHOOL AT REAR 140 Beal Road at Candace Avenue
BRIGHT SCHOOL GYMNASIUM 260 Grove Street – Corner of Clark & Bright Streets
BRIGHT SCHOOL GYMNASIUM 260 Grove Street – Corner of Clark & Bright Streets
CHARLES A. LAWLESS HOUSING 110 Pond Street
CLARK GOVERNMENT CENTER 119 School St. Corner of School & Lexington St.
BANKS SCHOOL BASEMENT 948 Main Street – Corner of Main & South Street
BANKS SCHOOL BASEMENT 948 Main Street – Corner of Main & South Street
WHALEN HOUSING 84 Orange Street
SOUTH MIDDLE SCHOOL 510 Moody Street
ARTHUR J. CLARK HOUSING 48 Pine Street
CUTTER STREET POLLING BOOTH 8 Cutter Street
Going to be out of town on November 8? No excuse not to vote! Download an absentee ballot request form. Better yet, if you’re a Waltham resident, go to the city clerk’s office at City Hall and request an absentee ballot and fill it out all in one quick visit!
Massachusetts will be participating in early voting, so if you’re not available on November 8 and don’t want to vote via an absentee ballot, you can participate. Early voting is October 24 – November 4. The times and locations for early voting in Waltham are:
Who is Running?
(List of all candidates in Massachusetts)
Question 1: Expanded Slot-Machine Gaming: “A YES VOTE would permit the state Gaming Commission to license one additional slot-machine gaming establishment at a location that meets certain conditions specified in the law.”
Question 2: Charter School Expansion: “A YES VOTE would allow for up to 12 approvals each year of either new charter schools or expanded enrollments in existing charter schools, but not to exceed 1% of the statewide public school enrollment.”
Question 3: Conditions for Farm Animals: “A YES VOTE would prohibit any confinement of pigs, calves, and hens that prevents them from lying down, standing up, fully extending their limbs, or turning around freely.”
Question 4: Legalization, Regulation, and Taxation of Marijuana: “A YES VOTE would allow persons 21 and older to possess, use, and transfer marijuana and products containing marijuana concentrate (including edible products) and to cultivate marijuana, all in limited amounts, and would provide for the regulation and taxation of commercial sale of marijuana and marijuana products.”
Now that our first annual Watch Read Listen program has officially come to a close we would like to reflect on the Artist of the Summer series.
Artist of the Summer is a 5 week series that takes place within the annual Watch Read Listen program. It is a collaborative art project meant to engage the Waltham community both through the creation of and viewing of an art project. The intention is to create and use communal art as a means to begin a thoughtful dialogue.
Artists Sarah Leon and Molly MacKenzie teamed up this year and designed 5 interactive workshops to create a single display. Inspired by The Jungle Book we focused largely on Indian culture and environmental conservation. We used recycled materials to create the display while listening to traditional Indian music. The five programs in order were:
“Letters to the Sky” – creation of the backdrop
“Roots, Rocks and Rattlesnakes” – creation of the jungle floor
“I Speak for the Trees” – creation of the tree trunks
“Money Grows on Trees” – creation of the branches and leaves
“The Secret Life of Beasts” – creation of the animals
Thank you to all who participated in the creation of the display and to all who viewed and commented on it. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Use your art and voice to create a positive dialogue in your community.
There is no community without unity.
Together look at what we can do.
Keep on creating!
Reading the new Joe Hill book, The Fireman. It’s not my favorite Joe Hill book, but I am really enjoying it. Like his other books, it’s a horror book with many elements of fantasy. Of all his books, this one has some of the scariest and most intense scenes.
I’ve watched too many movies recently: Krampus – A a great horror film. It’s rare that I enjoy a new horror film almost as much as the films from the 80s. ; Keanu – This was a great fun, dumb (but smartly made) comedy; Triple 9 – Not a bad action film, but the story line has a lot of holes; The Gallows – A decent horror film; Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Not the type of movie I normally watch, but it was sort of sweet and sad.
Falling by Jane Green and First Comes Love: A Novel by Emily Giffin. I typically really enjoy (i.e. only read) light, fluffy reads from authors like Green and Giffin, but by far these two books are two of their worst (I’ve read all their titles). I genuinely disliked the endings, the writing, the plot line (even the name of one of the main characters). That being said, if you want light, sappy and a book to keep your mind of anything serious, this may suffice.
Zootopia – DVD: “In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy.” Honestly, I’d skip this. I didn’t like it at all as a grown up and I didn’t think it was appealing to young kids either. There is a funny scene with sloths as DMV workers that made me chuckle (YouTube it); otherwise, skip it.
Just finished reading She’s Not There by Joy Fielding. I don’t usually read her but this was recommended to me. Suspenseful, family drama, tragedy.. all the things that keep you hooked until the surprise ending.
Falling by Jane Green. Not worth it. I got @1/2 way through and said, Really? Never finished it.
Flight Patterns by Karen White. One of my favorite authors. I was not disappointed.
Too Close to Home by Susan Lewis. Jenna and Jack Moore have moved their family to Wales for a fresh start. They run a publishing company together and have managed to blend their business and marriage into a good working partnership. But a year into the move Jenna suspects things are not what they seem. This story has many sub plots involving bullying (cyber, physically, and mentally), victims, infidelity, fraud, abuse, and suicide. Jenna discovers that all families have issues to deal with, including her own. It has twists and turns that keep you engaged.
Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen. Morris Siegel is an almost 90-year old dress pattern-maker for a famous designer and he is ready to retire and wants to go out on top. His last design is the perfect little black dress that makes it onto the cover of a popular women’s magazine and it becomes THE dress of the season. It really is a delightful story, as the narrative progresses, Morris’s dress brings happiness and good luck to nine different, unrelated women who wear it.This was a really fun read with a great cast of characters.
I’m currently reading The Book that Matters Most by Ann Hood. Ava is dealing with the loss of her 25 year marriage, she is completely blind-sided, having thought their marriage was stable and secure. Her grown children are currently living abroad. Ava is trying to find some meaning in her life since her husband has moved onto another woman. Her friend runs a book group and a spot has opened up and Ava joins. Each year the book group has a theme and this year it’s” the book that matters most” to them in their life. Most of the members have picked classics but Ava remembers a book from her childhood that helped her cope with her young sister’s death and her mother’s suicide. As each member of the book group talks about how their book had an impact on their life, it makes you think about what book you might choose as the book that matters most in your life??
Deadly Medicine by Margaret Truman; Since Margaret died more than eight years ago, she did not really write this. My brother Charles would always say that she did not write any of them. Maybe he was right. This was entertaining and I enjoyed. If you like the Capitol murder series, you may enjoy this.
Among the Wicked by Linda Castillo; This is the latest in the Kate Burkholder mystery series. Kate goes undercover in an Upstate New York Amish community. It is a page turner. I had trouble putting it down and read it in two days.
Tuesday’s Gone by Nicci French: This is the second in the Freida Klein mystery series. A social worker checks on a mentally disabled woman and finds her entertaining a corpse that is long dead and covered with flies.
Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr: The first in the Anna Pigeon mystery series. Anna is a park ranger in the National Forest Service. My sister recommended it because all of the murders happen in different National Parks. I’m not sure that I will read all of these. I have the second one in case it is better, so I will let you know.
Sole Survivor [sound recording] / Dean Koontz. When a crime reporter investigates the crash of a commercial airliner he is lead to reassess everything he thought he knew about life and death.
Make Me [sound recording] / Lee Child. “Why is this town called Mother’s Rest?” That’s all Reacher wants to know. And you are off on another Reacher adventure that won’t disappoint….
Who Let the Dog Out? [sound recording] : an Andy Carpenter Mystery /David Rosenfelt. I always enjoy David Rosenfelt’s books this was another one.
Our Souls at Night [sound recording] : a novel / Kent Haruf. A nice little story about two lonely souls who get together to offer each other comfort!
A Town Like Alice [sound recording] / by Nevil Shute. Years ago we watched this PBS Series on TV. Back then I didn’t realize it was also a novel – When someone recently returned the sound recording, I checked it out and listened to it, It is the story of survival by a group of women, in Australia, during WW II who survived a Japanese death march.
The Black Echo [sound recording] / Michael Connelly. Another favorite author of mine – I had a suspicion who one of the murderers was and I was right! Poor Harry!
Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe. After reading this memoir I was looking forward to seeing the “Outsiders” Rob’s first big movie until I heard him describe going to the premier and finding that most of the scenes he struggled with acting, in the film, were left on the cutting room floor.
The Outsiders : the Complete Novel – This version of the movie had all the deleted scenes included.
After listening to Rob Lowe’s “memoir” I was interested in seeing the movie The Outsiders is one of the first movies he was in –
Enjoyed seeing the many actors who were known as the “Brat Pack” but guess I’ve grown up and I got tired of watching a group of adolescents growing up in a tough neighborhood.
I recently listened to and enjoyed His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. I had picked up “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik first (an unusual fantasy book with Polish influences), and when I liked that I realized that she had written the Temeraire series! “His Majesty’s Dragon” is an alternate history fantasy book where dragons exist and are used in their own branch of the military, and they are fighting in the Napoleonic Wars.
Janice: I read Shakespeare’s Gardens by Jackie Bennett. The photographer Andrew Lawson deserves just as much credit for his luscious photos in this new book which is as much travelogue as literary remembrance. It’s based on the four houses most closely associated with William Shakespeare and his family: his birthplace at Stratford-Upon-Avon; his mother’s home at Wilmcote; his wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage; and his own home, New Place. The detailed descriptions and stories of these landmarks are interspersed with quotes from various plays and poems. Do you remember this one? “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet” from Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, scene 1.
I’m reading Arrowood by Laura McHugh author of The Weight of Blood. Arrowood is a fantastic southern gothic mystery set in a creepy old house in Mississippi. Arden’s twin sisters were kidnapped twenty years ago while she (only 8 years old) was supposed to be watching them. After inheriting her childhood home, she returns to the old memories and mystery of what really happened.
I’m rewatching Gilmore Girls while waiting for the revival on Netflix!
Louise:Freud’s Mistress by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman. This is a delicious piece of romantic historical fiction. Mack and Kaufman are going on the assumption that Sigmund Freud had an affair with his wife’s sister, Minna Bernays. There has been speculation that this occurred.
This novel is gripping from start to finish. One is horrified to see the limited options for unmarried women in 1895 Vienna. The Anti-Semitism of the time is also portrayed in this novel. Minna is in a difficult situation with no position and no job. She accepts her sister Martha’s offer to help her out in a chaotic household with six children. Martha enjoys her elixir (which is made from opium) which helps with her ailments but puts her rather out of commission.
Sigmund works on his theories of human development, dream interpretation and human sexuality in his study, working until all hours. Minna, who is very well read and intellectually curious, spends hours talking with Freud in his private study. Children and spouses are forbidden to enter his study and interrupt his work. Minna is fortunate to be invited in and an attraction develops between the two. Freud offers her some of his coca which they both insert into their noses….
The rest as they say, is history!
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. (E-book). This book, the choice for the 2016 Waltham High School One School/One Book Program, is extremely timely and thought provoking. Rashad, an African-American high school student, is severely beaten by a police officer, who wrongly believes that Rashad is shoplifting, prompting much discussion and acts of protest from Rashad’s fellow students. Quinn, who witnesses the event and is friends with the police officer’s brother, finds himself questioning what he believes is right and wrong. Told in alternating points of view with each author taking on each protagonist’s voice, this is a thought provoking novel sure to start a discussion. As a woman, I have to admit that I loved the fact that all of the female characters were great characters who provided intelligent voices of reason in both narratives.
Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell. In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, main character, Cath, spends much of her time working on her fan fiction, Carry On based on the Simon Snow series, a thinly disguised Harry Potter. Readers and Rowell were curious enough to want to know more about Cath’s work, and the world of Simon Snow, that Rowell decided to expand the world and publish an original novel. As a Harry Potter fan, I was initially reluctant to read this, but having enjoyed Rowell’s other books and revisiting Harry Potter after reading the latest play, I decided to give this a chance. I’m very glad I did. The novel gently parodies not only Harry Potter but many fantasy properties and other series featuring a so-called “chosen one”, in such a clever and original way. I dare say the characters, including Simon, his nemesis turned ally, Baz, Simon’s best friend, Penelope, are not only well drawn but are even more dimensional than most of the Harry Potter characters. It even addresses some of the issues with the more well known series, such as why a school’s headmaster would knowingly put a young person in danger in order to fulfill a prophecy. The book is certainly a treat if you are already fans of Fangirl and Harry Potter, but it is not necessarily to be familiar with either property to enjoy this.
Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty (Downloadable audiobook). Childhood friends, Erika and Clementine, and their families were at a barbecue at Erika’s neighbor’s house when something horrible happened. What that something is, we don’t find out until very late in the novel, as we get bits and pieces from different characters’ points of view of that fateful day. I have enjoyed Liane Moriarty very much, but this was my least favorite of her titles. I didn’t understand why Erika and Clementine were friends, and I finished the novel still not understanding. While I was drawn in to the story, immediately, with previous titles of hers, I didn’t take to this very quickly. However, patience did pay off, and, while I did not love it, I did end up enjoying it more than I did, in the beginning. Supporting characters, Tiffany and Vid (the barbecue hosts) were extremely compelling and fleshed out, and made for the most interesting parts of the novel. Regular Moriarty narrator, Caroline Lee, is a gem, as usual! I can’t imagine listening or reading a Liane Moriarty novel without hearing Lee’s voice.
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. At the risk of sounding a little too fangirlish, I have a bit of a girl crush on Jacqueline Woodson. We were very lucky to host Ms. Woodson last year, and she was incredibly kind and gracious to the young fans who asked her about writing. I admire her advocacy, including her efforts with #We Need Diverse Books, addressing a very serious problem regarding the lack of diverse characters in children’s and young adult literature. And, of course, this is all in addition to her writing, which is lyrical and amazing. Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming, written in verse, is one of the best memoirs I’ve read. I was very excited to hear that Woodson was writing her first adult novel in over 20 years with Another Brooklyn, a novel about coming of age in a black neighborhood in 1970’s Brooklyn. I was not disappointed. Woodson’s writing shines through and is as beautiful as ever. My only complaint is that the book is so short, quickly ending my time with her writing.
Shem Creek by Dorothea Benton Frank. Dorothea Benton Frank is a very funny writer, who truly loves her native South Carolina, and often makes that alive with her rich characters and mouth watering descriptions of food. This, however, was not one of her best novels. The two main characters, who fall in love, don’t have great chemistry. Years old tension between the main character and her daughter is resolved much too quickly, and an incident involving the daughter’s teacher and eco terrorism seems to be lifted out of a different novel. The only character that was well drawn is the second wife of the main character’s ex-husband, a character that was only in one scene. If you want to try Frank, start with another one of her titles.
Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. (Downloadable Audiobook). This collection of essays, narrated by Poehler, is a mixed bag. Many of the essays were nothing more than literal bullet lists of anecdotes, and tried to address serious issues in superficial ways. When Poehler hits, though, she hits. Cameos from Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, and Carol Burnett are enjoyable. (A cameo from Seth Meyers, who I also like, didn’t do much for me). I also greatly enjoyed Poehler’s essay on working mothers versus stay-at-home mothers in which she encourages both groups to have better respect for the other, criticizing society for pitting the two groups against each other. This essay saved the book for me.
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick. In 1819, the whaleship, Essex, left Nantucket with a crew of 20. Over a year later, it was rammed by a large whale, resulting in the crew escaping, and after months of survival tactics (including cannibalism), only eight returned home. This descriptive book, gives a great sense of time and place, and is a fascinating account of a truly horrifying event (which later inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick). Descriptions of dehydration made me reach for my water bottle more than I usually do!
I just finished listening to The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. It’s historical fiction about real-life abolitionist and woman’s suffragist, Sarah Grimke. There are 2 narrators of this audiobook and as someone who listens to way more books than I read in print, I have to tell you that multi-voiced productions are AWESOME!
I wrote a blog post a few years back about multi-voiced audiobooks. There’s a list in there of a bunch of multi-narrator titles, if audiobooks are your thing.
I’m currently listening to the Waltham High School One School One Story summer reading book called All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. This ALSO has 2 narrators telling the 2 different perspectives of this story. The fact that the both have 2 narrators is just a fun coincidence.
And last, but not least, as part of the library’s summer-long Watch! Read! Listen! program, I listened to ANOTHER multi-voiced audiobook of a few of the Jungle Book stories by Rudyard Kipling. The narrators are the famous actors Eartha Kitt & Freddie Jones. Their voices did a great job making the story and the characters come alive!
It wasn’t my plan to seek out these multi-narrator stories this summer, but I’m happy it worked out that way.
For anyone with Amazon Prime, Catastrophe is a hilarious, irreverent comedy about the unexpected joys and struggles of family-making. Some bold, mature, brutally honest humor, but of a refreshingly non-exploitative, gender-neutral sort that I haven’t seen pulled off as well anywhere else. Check out star Sharon Horgan’s other show, Pulling.
HBO’s limited series The Night Of is only a few episodes in, but it’s a masterful crime drama so far, brought to you by some of the folks from The Wire, which is a personal favorite. Excellent writing and acting. Beautiful photography and directing that pulls off almost symphonic moments. Plus John Turturro. Love John Turturro. To get your John Turturro fix while waiting, check out the movies, Quiz Show and Barton Fink.
And if you’ve heard any of Beyoncé’s recent Lemonade but haven’t watched the visual album version, you should. It’s essentially one long music video, but it’s a pretty bold video art project featuring some powerful poetry from Warsan Shire. But listen to the album first. There are wonderful songs on there, and the aggressive video editing can make some of them a little confusing. Both the CD and the DVD are included in the physical release which you can find in the MLN network.
Jan: I read Over the Top and Back: The Autobiography by Tom Jones. It begins: “Let’s start somewhere near the bottom. Early 1983, say. Early 1983 finds me sitting in a drab-colored dressing room in Framingham, Massachusetts…at the Chateau de Ville Dinner Theatre, Framingham’s premier “function room”…two shows per night…” Surprisingly, I was at one of those shows, in awe at being in the presence of an icon, even then. Doing “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”…the one song that can make me melt and cry at the same time. Little did we fans know Tom considered it the bottom of his career, no hits in twelve years, falling from the heights of Vegas to the depths of cabarets. It took his son Mark coming on as his new manager in 1986 to turn his career around- new no. 1 albums and singles, a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, the Concert for Diana, a coach on BBC’s The Voice UK, “Sir Thomas Jones Woodward”. TJ. What a voice!
The Island by Elin Hilderbrand. Two generations of sisters, Birdie and India, and Birdie’s two daughters, Chess and Tate go to the family home on Tuckerneck Island after Chess’s jilted fiance dies rock climbing. Each woman brings some baggage including tense relationships with their respective family members. The setting, an island off the coast of Nantucket (Hilderbrand’s usual setting), is another character in the story, making this book a literal beach read. If you like soapy family plots with a bit of tragedy to go with your happy ending, this fast paced book is for you!
The Fangirl Life: A Guide to Feeling all the Feels and Learning How to Deal by Kathleen Smith. What is a fangirl, you ask? Basically, it’s a woman who becomes involved in a fandom of a television show, movie, or book in any degree. If you’re not sure, this book supplies a helpful list, featuring two bullets that may (or may not) apply to me (“You survive boring meetings by imagining two fictional characters making out in a variety of settings” and “You can identify the current story arc of a show based on a female character’s hair.”). Written by a self confessed fangirl and therapist, this book gives fans the right to love their favorite fictional characters and using that love as ways to positively influence their lives in the real world. I didn’t actually realize this book was a self-help book when I first started reading, but it doesn’t make it any less fun, and I found myself laughing when I related a little too much to a scenario!
The Fall: Series 1 and 2. After several co-workers have spent the better part of a year recommending this show to me, I finally got around to watching this crime drama filmed and set in Northern Ireland. Gillian Anderson (speaking of fangirling) stars as British detective Stella Gibson, called in to aide the Belfast police department in their pursuit of a serial killer. All thoughts of Agent Scully left my mind as I was riveted by Anderson’s performance as the determined, unapologetic, layered Detective Gibson. Probably one of the most interesting female characters I’ve seen in a recent show. Jamie Dornan is very creepy as serial killer, Paul Spector, though I have to admit I got a little tired of his character. When the show returns for a third season, I wouldn’t mind if Stella pursues a different case.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child a play by Jack Thorne, based on a story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne. So here it is, the long awaited eighth “official” story in the Harry Potter saga. This play, which officially opened in London on July 31, was released in book format on the same day on both sides of the pond. The script is a quick read (if not a quick day at the theatre, as the production allegedly clocks in at five hours), and I was glad to revisit with some of my favorite characters from Hogwarts, now adults and parents, as well as meet some of their children. (One of whom, in my opinion, is the best character in the play.) Two of the newer characters’ friendship reminded me of the fake fanfiction, “Carry On, Simon Snow” first referenced in Rainbow Rowell’s novel,Fangirl. Surprising, this play actually inspires me to read the published Carry On rather than re-read the Harry Potter novels.
My Boy Jack, starring David Haig, Daniel Radcliffe (speaking of Harry Potter), Kim Cattrall, and Carey Mulligan. In honor of our Watch! Read! Listen! choice, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, I watched this film about Kipling’s son, Jack, who was killed in action in World War I, and the consequences it had on the family. Cattrall and Haig (who wrote the original play and screenplay) are excellent as Rudyard and Carrie Kipling. Rudyard Kipling is portrayed warts and all here, and I appreciated that this movie showed him as the complicated man he was.
I’m currently listening to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and read by Jim Dale, courtesy of our subscription to Overdrive. This extremely descriptive, imaginative novel about a mysterious circus, two magicians, their proteges, and a lot more, is made all the richer by Jim Dale’s narration. I’m not an avid audiobook listener but when I find a narrator I enjoy, I’m riveted. Dale is probably best known to audiobook regulars as the narrator of Harry Potter series, but I know and love him as the narrator of the cancelled too soon narrator of the TV series, Pushing Daisies. This book also gets bonus points from me for having this awesomely hilarious line, “The Burgess sisters arrived together. Tara and Lainie do a little bit of everything. Sometimes dancers, sometimes actresses. Once they were librarians, but that is a subject they will only discuss if heavily intoxicated.”
The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. This is the summer reading title for Waltham middle schools. It’s 1958 in Little Rock, Arkansas, one year after the Little Rock 9 integrated Central High School. Segregationists, rather than obey a federal order, to integrate the schools, close the high schools. What happens during the events of that school year are told through the point of view of white junior high school student, Marlee, a quiet girl, who becomes friends with a new student, Liz. When Liz disappears from school one day, Marlee realizes that she needs to speak up in favor of integration, but learns that it’s not so easy. According to the afterward, the author wanted to focus on the year following the integration of Central High School, in order to demonstrate the long struggle regarding integration. Books I would recommend for further reading are: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley; Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Beals; Elizabeth and Hazel by David Margolick; Fire from the Rock by Sharon Draper. Students at Kennedy and McDevitt Middle Schools are encouraged to join us for a book discussion on Monday, August 15 at 3:00 pm.
Currently reading What She Knew / Gilly Macmillan. It’s a debut novel that tells the story of a mother’s search for her missing son. Rachel and her eight year old son, Ben, are walking in the park when Ben asks if he can run ahead to the swings, she says sure and that is the last time she sees him. I’ve just started it but I am hooked!
Her Again : Becoming Meryl Streep / Michael Schulman. I’m a long time Meryl Streep fan and I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s a wonderful portrait of a talented actor.
Disclaimer by Renee Knight. A mysterious book within a book. When Catherine finds a book on her bedside table she is unsure of how it got there, but as she starts to read it,she finds herself as a character in the book. How did the book come into her new house and who is the author? Disclaimer is an unsettling psychological thriller with a creepy central premise. Hard to put down.
The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffths. I really enjoy the Ruth Galloway series, this is the eighth book in the series . Ruth is a forensic archeologist who assists the police at numerous murder scenes. So once again we meet up with all the entertaining characters involved in the books including Cathbad, a druid and mystic. Griffiths always provides a clever mystery with a wealth of historical detail.
What the Waves Know / Tamara Valentine. This is a debut novel and if you read it, you won’t be disappointed.I read it in a day and a half and was sad to have it end. It is told through the eyes of fourteen year old, Izabella (Iz) who has not spoken since she was six years old when she experienced a tragic event. The characters and plot are richly developed, it is set on a fictional island off the coast of Rhode Island. It is a thought-provoking and enjoyable novel.
The Nightingale / Kristin Hannah. It is 1939 in a small village in France as the country surrenders to the Germans and the Nazis occupy the village. It is the story of two sisters who are separated by years as well as ideals. Isabelle is a rebellious eighteen year old who joins the Resistance and never looks back. Her sister, Vianne, has said good bye to her husband as he heads for the Front. Vianne’s home is requisitioned by a German Captain, so she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Hannah has written a beautiful novel that illuminates what women had to endure to survive the war and help those in danger.This novel really celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.
Lilac Girls : a Novel / Martha Hall Kelly. This novel follows three women, Caroline Ferriday, Herta Oberheuser and Kasia Kuzmerick, starting in 1939. This story is based on real people and actual events. The author has done a remarkable job researching her topic. Once again it tells the story of WWII from the woman’s perspective. If you like historical fiction, this book is for you.
Currently listening to The Body in the Wardrobe [electronic resource] / Katherine Hall Page, always available on Hoopla. The latest installment in the Faith Fairchild series. It picks up from the last book, Body in the Birches, so the location switches back and forth from Massachusetts to
historic Savannah, Georgia. Katherine Hall Page is one of my favorite traditional mystery writers so I know I won’t be disappointed!
Recently watched 45 Years– DVD. Starring – Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay. As Kate and Geoff plan to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary they receive some unexpected news that shakes their marriage. Rampling and Courtenay are fabulous together!
Last Pilot by Benjamin Hancock. Spare, haunting, tender, sparse, this book hits high emotional notes with the smallest of details. The story revolves around the start of the space program and the beginnings of Edwards Airbase in the Mohave Desert. We follow a young couple, struggling with infertility as well as their place in the fast moving world of aerodynamics. The images and feelings will stay with you long after the last page is finished.
The Boy DVD. Greta (Lauren Cohan from the Walking Dead) as the lead actress led me to believe this movie might be a smidge schlocky. However, despite a rather oft done story line, the acting was great and the suspense both believable and gripping. An elderly couple hire Greta as a nanny to watch their son while they go on a trip. Their son, as our heroine soon finds out, is an over sized doll – or is he? I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Books:Suicide Motor Club by Christopher Buehlman. Buehlman always writes great literary horror/thrillers, this is his 2nd book featuring vampires. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera. A great read about a young Puerto Rican woman trying to figure out feminism, race, sexuality, and how she fits into the world.
TV:Wayward Pines 2nd season. Based on the book series Wayward Pines by Blake Crouch Stranger Things on Netflix. (While waiting for this to be available on DVD, check out the movies, Super 8, ET, and The Goonies). Degrassi Next Class on Netflix. Not quite as good as the first few iterations of the popular canadian series, but i can’t stop watching! (While waiting for this to be available, check out Degrassi, the Next Generation.) Girl Meets World. Remember Boy Meets World from the 90s? This series follows the adventures of Corey and Topanga’s daughter Riley through the trials of jr high and high school. Full of nostalgia and appearances from old cast members. Including Mr. Feeney.
Movies:Hunt for the Wilderpeople (in theaters) by the same people who brought us the hilarious fake vampire documentary What We Do in the Shadows. Synopsis: “A boy (Julian Dennison) and his foster father (Sam Neill) become the subjects of a manhunt after they get stranded in the New Zealand wilderness.”
I watched the first season of Silicon Valley and while it was pretty funny, it would definitely be much more entertaining to someone more familiar with the ins and outs and technical aspects of the computer world than I.
I also watched Sing Street, recommended to me by Nancy D, which was a nice combination of lighthearted fun and drama. Lots of entertaining ’80s style music but not overwhelmingly so.
Recently, I finally finished the Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater, ending with The Raven King. It was definitely the best and most engaging YA fantasy series I’ve read in a long time. I really enjoyed it.
I also listened to The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, what seems at first to be a medieval fantasy book about a young woman coming of age and ascending the throne, but all is not as it seems, with an interesting twist. I enjoyed that enough to continue listening to the next in the series, The Invasion of the Tearling, on Hoopla. However, partway through, I’m not sure it’s living up to what it could have been and it’s feeling too dragged out merely so it can become a trilogy.
A Gathering of Shadows is the second in the Shades of Magic series by V. E. Schwab, and I am enjoying the series so much that even when I had the opportunity to pick up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I chose to read Schwab’s book instead. Like in the Harry Potter universe, I love the interesting characters and unique set of worlds the author has created.
And that brings us to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! It’s finally here! So far, I’m relishing being back in the wizarding world, but remembering how much I dislike reading plays. But for another chance to be in this universe, I really can’t complain!
On Freegal, I’ve been listening to The Descendants who have been one of my favorite bands since I was in High School. Their new album just came out this week. Sadly Freegal doesn’t have it, but they do have many of their older albums.
On Hoopla, I read several graphic novels. My favorites were Southern Bastard (Volume 1; Volume 2) and Outcast (Volume 1; Volume 2). Southern Bastard takes a violent & sad look at how football culture rules the small towns of the South. Outcast is by the Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman. There are no zombies…it is about a small town, the super natural, and the occult.
On OverDrive, I downloaded A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk. It is about a boy, Melvut, who moved to Istanbul to live with his Dad. With his father, he works as a boza & yogurt seller. While this is a book about Mevlut and his family, it is also about the changes that took place in Istanbul between 1969 and 2012.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: An amazing debut novel that tells the tale of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, born into different villages in 18th century Ghana. One marries an Englishman and lives in relative luxury in the Cape Coast Castle. The other (unbeknownst to her half sister) is imprisoned below the castle in the dungeon which holds prisoners to be sold in the booming Gold Coast slave trade. The novels traces the stories of the two sisters and their descendants through history up to the present day. The novel is beautifully written and touches upon so many important themes including the complicated bonds of family, and the even more complicated faces of slavery and prejudice in both Africa and the United States. A truly illuminating read.
Summit by Harry Farthing: This novel is long, but kept me hooked to the end by it’s intriguing story loosely based on real events involving the climbing of Mount Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world. The book follows two climbers, one an English climbing guide in the present day, and another, a German soldier forced to climb the mountain as part of Hitler’s Nazi dream of world supremacy almost 70 years earlier. The author links their stories beautifully and the tale is filled with adventure, suspense, drama and richly developed characters. As any good historical novel should, it sparked my interest in the intriguing history of Mount Everest and the people who risked, and often lost, their lives to reach its summit.
Two other favorite reads take place in very cold places: Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton: This novel follows Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby (highly gifted and sensitive) on a search to find her husband who was reportedly killed in an explosion in an camp in the far reaches of Alaska, where he was studying and photographing native life. Yasmin refuses to believe he is dead, and she and her daughter set out against great odds to make the long journey to find out what really happened. It’s a gripping, suspense thriller which also embraces other themes such the bonds of familial love and environmental threats to a fragile ecosystem. Alternating between the points of view of Yasmin and Ruby, the story flowed quickly and kept me engaged; My Last Continent by Midge Raymond: A gorgeous adventure and love story set against the backdrop of the dramatic Antarctic Continent. It tells the tale of two naturalists, Deb Gardner and Keller Sullivan, both in love with each other and perhaps even more with the land they study. When a large cruise ship sails too close to this land of ice, the action and suspense accelerate with potentially tragic consequences. As with “Quality of Silence,” this novel also addresses the harmful impact that both tourism and global warming are having on a fragile land.
The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe: This terrific historical novel tells the tale of Anita Hemmings, who, in 1897, became the first black student to graduate from Vassar College. And she did so largely by passing as a white woman. As one reviewer wrote “this fictionalized take on Hemming’s real-life story …animates her struggle to straddle two worlds, each with its own separate definitions of freedom.” This novel contains all the elements of a great story: richly drawn characters, witty dialogue, a wonderful sense of place, and an intriguing and important story. Many of the scenes depict early 19th century Cambridge MA, which makes it especially engaging to our local audience.
I’m currently listening to Night by Elie Wiesel, performed by George Guidall. In this book, Nobel Peace Prize and Congressional Gold Medal Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel provides an “unforgettable account of Hitler’s horrific reign of Terror.” Though it is technically a novel, this account provides an unmistakable autobiographical depiction of the author’s own devastating experiences in Nazi Germany’s death camps as told through his own 14-year old eyes. Often times (for obvious reasons) it is hard to listen to, but his narrative also captures precious moments of grace, beauty and kindness, offering hope that goodness can ultimately triumph over evil.
The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield, narrated by Kathleen Early: This is a sassy, funny, irreverent,and sometimes heartbreaking redemption story set in the small town of Quinn, Montana. It focuses on Rachel Flood, a recovered alcoholic who returns to her hometown to make amends for the mistakes she made in her wild youth. The story is filled with unforgettable, sometimes quite crazy characters who alternately shock, amuse, and melt your heart. In this story, the Flood Girls is the name of the town’s all female softball team, coached by Rachel’s mother, which has yet to win a tournament. I won’t reveal the ending, but this story definitely won my heart.
Case/Lang/Veirs: This new music CD is a collaborative effort between three very accomplished female artists: Neko Case, K.D. Lang, and Laura Veirs. The women wrote all 14 songs and share lead vocals equally, often within the same track. The singing and the songs are gorgeous and haunting and delightful. Although they each have unique voices, they blend and soar in beautiful harmony. This is definitely one of my favorite CDs, and one I can listen to again and again. If you like the Corrs or CSNY, you should take a listen to this CD.