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Staff Reads — June 9, 2018

Book Projector Treble Clef

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Luke:

Janet Z.:

  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (fiction)
    Americaneh’s central character is Ifemelu, a young Nigerian woman who comes to the United States to study. I enjoyed the book’s layered portrait of an immigrant settling into American life and largely succeeding, at least from professional and financial standpoints. Ifemelu’s return to Nigeria was also fascinating, but the romantic plotline that followed felt forced. Still an enjoyable read!
  • Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta (fiction)
    The beginning of this book is set against the backdrop of the Biafran conflict of the late 1960s. Ijeoma is sent away from her village in southern Nigeria, first to work for a family as a house girl and then to attend a girls boarding school. There she falls in love with a fellow student and the book follows both the joys and significant hurdles she then faces. A page turner!
  • Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II by Vicki Croke and narrated by Simon Prebble (non-fiction on CD)
    The hero of this story is Lt. Col. James Howard Williams, the setting is colonial Burma, but the real stars of this audiobook are the elephants, in all their wonderful complexity. Simon Prebble is a masterful narrator. Two thumbs up!
  • The Best of Bill Withers: Lean on Me (music CD)
    Contains awesome hits like “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Just the Two of Us”, and of course “Lean on Me”, but also the uplifting “Lovely Day”. Fun fact, if Wikipedia is to be believed . . . the 18-second note Withers holds at the end of “Lovely Day” is the longest of any Top 40 Hit in the United States.

Debora:

  • Beartown by Fredrik Backman
    You don’t have to know anything about – or even like – hockey to be enchanted by this engrossing read about a small town in Sweden that wants desperately to be in the big leagues. This is a #metoo book with a compelling story about a town that must choose between its dreams and the truth of a violent act against a young woman. The author creates whole and completely believable characters who tell their stories from start to finish. Backman’s writing is sublime.
  • And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer
    Fans of Geraldine Brooks’ People of the Book will love this historical fiction that interweaves the stories of two women, Susanna Kessler in 2010 New York City and Sara Itzig Levy in 1783 Berlin. Kessler has discovered a long-hidden musical work by Johann Sebastian Bach in her dead uncle’s possessions and Levy, a student of J.S. Bach’s son, hosts musical salons and keeps hidden a work of extreme antisemitism by the great master himself.

Laura:

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: This absorbing novel about Starr, an African-American teenage girl, who witnesses her childhood friend’s murder by a police officer, is extremely powerful and nuanced. The characterizations of Starr and those around her are very strong and multi-dimensional.
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, read by Jennifer Lim: Ng tells a complex tale about the (not so) quiet community of Shaker Heights, Ohio, starting with the burning of the Richardson’s family home and working backwards. Several issues are tackled here, including small town life, career versus family, transracial adoption, and teen pregnancy. This may seem as if the book is heavy handed, but it’s not, at all, as each topic is handled well. All of the characters are multi-layered and even those who start out as unappealing have sympathetic moments. The only exception to that is Mrs. Richardson, who I found unctuous. This is a great companion to Ng’s Everything I Never Told You
  • Can’t Help Myself by Meredith Goldstein: If you don’t start your day by reading Meredith Goldstein’s Love Letters advice column, please change your routine, right now! Goldstein’s memoir proves that she is just as down to earth as she appears in her column. It’s touching and funny and highly relatable!
  • The Story of the Great British Bake-Off: A Celebration of a National Obsession by Anita Singh: As tell all books go, this is the nicest, most charming, and, of course, most delicious. My only complaint is that there are no recipes included!
  • A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York by Liana Finck: Meredith Goldstein’s memoir introduced me to A Bintel Brief an advice column from 1906 in the Yiddish language newspaper, The Forward. There are two books in our network about the column, one for which I’m still waiting, and the other is this beautiful graphic novel. The art is simple and expressive and features the writer/artist meeting with The Forward‘s editor and A Bintel Brief writer, Abraham Cahan, in the modern day.
  • Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan, read by Norbert Leo Butz, Heather Lind, and Vincent Piazza: Audiobooks are a hit or miss for me, and this was a miss. I would have preferred one narrator, as opposed to three. The story seemed compelling and intriguing but I couldn’t get through the presentation.
  • My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss: Warning! Do not read this charming memoir if you are hungry. You will torture yourself! I’m looking forward to trying some of the recipes.
  • Creed: Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone make a good team as Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis, and Rocky Balboa. I don’t have strong feelings about the Rocky movies but I found this enjoyable. Jordan is an actor who can do no wrong. I also appreciated the twist on the stepmother trope, with Apollo’s widow providing a loving mother figure to the young Adonis. Very refreshing.
  • For the Love of Spock: I seem to have gravitated towards films in which men try to relate to their deceased famous and complicated fathers. Leonard Nimoy’s son, Adam, directed this documentary about his father’s famous role and the effect it had on society and Nimoy’s family. This is a very touching and thoughtful film and includes interviews with several Star Trek favorites.

Louise:

  • I just listened to Chris Bohjalian’s The Sandcastle Girls. Laura Petrosian, a novelist who lives in the suburbs of New York, decides to write about her ancestors. Laura is living in 2012 America. The book she writes about her forbears takes place in Aleppo, Syria, in 1915. Elizabeth Endicott, Laura’s New England born grandmother, journeys from Boston with her father to provide relief to refugees of the Armenian genocide. Elizabeth meets Armen, a young Armenian engineer. Armen has lost his wife and daughter to the genocide. She also shelters two of the refugees, Nevart, a women who has lost her husband and Hatoun, a young girl who has lost her entire family. This story provides a historical frame of reference about the Armenian genocide, romance, great detail and a fascinating story that will keep you listening or turning pages. The narration in the audiobook is very well done. This is a great book for readers of historical fiction, people who enjoy romantic elements, and those who wish to know more about the Armenian genocide.
  • I am currently listening to Hillary Clinton’s book, What Happened? This book is narrated by the author and is interesting because it provides a more detailed account of the campaign. One learns more about why Mrs. Clinton decided to run, what in her mind were the factors that lead to her defeat in the 2016 election, and her values and visions for the country. Sometimes author narrations can be a mixed bag, but Mrs Clinton has a good reading voice, excellent pace and is enjoyable to listen to. No matter what one’s beliefs are, it is interesting to hear her analysis of what happened. Recommended for people who like non fiction about government figures, presidential politics, the role of gender in politics and autobiographical works.
  • Undiscovered Country by Kelly O’Connor McNees is a well researched novel that speculates about Eleanor Roosevelt’s relationship with journalist Lorena Hickok. The story is interesting for several reasons: Eleanor Roosevelt was a first lady who set out to make a difference in the country she was serving. Lorena Hickok, a journalist dedicated to her job, meets Eleanor and their professional relationship develops into something more. Another excellent novel about the same topic is Loving Eleanor by Susan Wittig Albert. Both of these novels are interesting historically and because the characters are strong women who make tough choices and help their country and those they love These novels are great for people who enjoy fictional works about historical figures. They are also great choices for readers who like strong female protagonists.

Dana:

    Reading

  • I Want My Epidural Back: Adventures in Mediocre Parenting by Karen Alpert and The Sh!t No One Tells You About Toddlers: A Guide to Surviving the Toddler Years by Dawn Dais. Both were quick, fun reads that made me laugh out loud a few times… and made me feel like I found kindred spirits when it comes to some of my own parenting experiences.
  • Palestine by Joe Sacco. This is my first go at reading a book of graphic journalism (according to Goodreads, “Sacco has often been called the first comic book journalist”) and also my first go at trying to educate myself about the history of Israel and Palestine. A comic book seemed like it might be a gentle introduction, but this one about Sacco’s time visiting the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the early 1990s isn’t very gentle, although it is certainly interesting.
  • Books with the Bairn

  • All Aboard: London: A Travel Primer
    My toddler loves finding the double-decker bus that appears 3 times in this book.
  • That’s Not My Pirate…
    These textured books are a big hit with my kid, and we check out any that we find! (Pirate, Dragon, Squirrel, Airplane, Kitty, etc.) I was excited when the WPL Children’s Room got a bunch in last month!
  • Red Car, Red Bus
    A fun town scene with a very simple narrative, but with lots of little things going on in the illustrations that provide a lot to talk about.
  • Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
    My son loves all the trucks, and I love the pictures of trucks cuddling teddy bears and blankies.
  • Listening

  • Adele’s 25 has been in heavy rotation in my car for the last year or so, as several songs on the album have an uncanny ability to calm down my son when he’s screaming. I recently checked out 21 to mix it up a little.
  • I also tried several audiobooks this month during my commute, but I just couldn’t get into any of them. I’ve never listened to audiobooks before, so maybe I just picked my titles badly (Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng ; What Happened? by Hillary Clinton; and Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple. It might be that I’m just not an audiobook person!
  • When the audiobook experiment failed, I decided to give podcasts a try. I’ve been listening to Pod Save America and so far I’ve really enjoyed it. Pods can be a nice break from music, and unlike audiobooks, if my attention shifts elsewhere during my drive, I don’t worry that I’ve missed any key plot points.

Aurora:

  • Princeless – Raven: The Pirate Princess, an awesome spin-off of an awesome book. I love the variety of characters and subtle references and points that are constantly slipped into the overarching story. Definitely a series well worth a look whether or not you normally read comics.
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi novelization, Star Wars novelizations are always interesting with what they had that wasn’t able to be included in the film. This one did not disappoint from the start, adding in more emotional scenes, character explorations, and context. Overall an enjoyable read, particularly when gaining a glimpse into the character’s heads.
  • Iron Man, with Avengers: Infinity War coming out I took a trip down memory lane by rewatching the film that started 10 years of Marvel. It was a fun film to watch, both for scenes remembered with fondness, and details that escaped notice or were forgotten. While not quite Black Panther, still one of Marvel’s best.
  • Snow Sisters, is a nice picture book about snowy days, but the real cool thing about it is that it is a palindrome (of words, not letters) that effectively tells an understandable and relatable story. A fun read for both adults as well as children.

Mary V.:

  • Alienist by Caleb Carr: I read this decades ago and I felt that it was time to read it again. I like this book because it takes place during the year that Theodore Roosevelt was the New York City commissioner of police. He is a minor character in this novel about a serial killer who preys on young boys who are working in the sex trade. Alienist is the nineteenth century word for psychologist.
  • The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn: This book is nothing like the 1944 movie of the same name. This story involves an agoraphobic woman who rarely leaves her house and is always watching her neighbors. I found the ending very surprising. I enjoyed this book. It is fast paced.
  • The Knowledge by Martha Grimes: This is the newest Richard Jury mystery. It is a little different in that Jury doesn’t seem to be the main character, but shares the spotlight.
  • The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen: I really liked this book about a divorced woman who is stalking her ex-husband’s fiancee. I thought I knew what was happening, but I was wrong. There are a few twists that will keep readers’ turning pages.
  • Twenty-One Days by Anne Perry: This is a new series about Daniel Pitt, the son of Thomas and Charlotte Pitt. He is a young lawyer who is trying to prove the innocence of his client and rescue him from the gallows. I was hoping Charlotte would play a role, but she only makes a short appearance.
  • Racing the Devil by Charles Todd: This is the newest Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery. It takes place two years after the end of World War I. Rutledge is trying to learn why the respected rector of St Simon’s Church and World War I veteran was forced off the road and killed in a motor car accident.

Kim:

  • I recently finished We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. As the jacket suggests, the novel is about motherhood gone awry as told from the perspective of Eva writing letters to her husband, Franklin. Shriver is a talented writer and you’ll either think Eva is all to blame, or that she could’ve done nothing more to try and prevent the atrocious act committed by her son. It’s a haunting, emotional, and thought-provoking story.
  • Recently watched Dina, a documentary about two adults with Autism learning to co-habitat as their wedding day approaches. It’s an observational doc (fly-on-the-wall style), no narration. There’s lots of joy and of course some frustrations throughout. It’s hard not to fall in love with Dina and Scott. If you’ve ever been in a relationship, you’ll likely appreciate the subject’s candor and lack of ego displayed. I’ll be thinking about this movie for a long time.
  • As for new music, I’ve been listening to K.O.D. by J. Cole, and Drake’s single “Nice for What”…just waiting to hear the full album.

Ashley:

  • The Summer of Jordi Perez a sweet summer romance. The main character is a “plus size” teen who runs a popular fashion blog.
  • What You Want to See by Kristen Lepionka The second book featuring private detective Roxane Weary. Just as good as the first. I look forward to the next one.
  • City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong This thriller was definitely a page turner! Canadian wilderness, bears, a secret town, murder! I picked up the next on the series immediately.
  • Westworld season 2 I love this show. I think the second season is even better than the first.
  • Little Women on PBS What a wonderful sweet new adaptation of this classic story.

June is LGBT+ Pride Month!

Check our handpicked display of books and films for Pride Month, along wit handy book lists for further reading!
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Lesbian Fiction and Memoir.pub

YA Gay Book List

Resources for Transgender Teens

Lesbian Fiction and Memoir.pub

Gender Identity

Gay Fiction

Staff Reads — May 1, 2018

Book Projector Treble Clef

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Nancy D.:

  • Too Close to Breathe by Olivia Kiernan: This excellent and very dark murder mystery/thriller takes place in modern day Dublin, and features a strong and complicated female protagonist, Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan, trying to track down a serial killer.
  • Winter Sisters by Robin Oliveira: I absolutely loved this novel, which takes place in Albany, New York in 1879. Dr. Mary Sutter, a former civil war surgeon who tries to find two young girls who go missing during a terrible blizzard in the city. It is rich in character development and suspense. If you like this novel, you might want to read the author’s previous book titled I Am Mary Sutter, which introduces the main character in the Winter Sisters.
  • How to Stop Time by Matt Haig: The protagonist of this novel is a (supposedly) 41 year old man named Tom Hazzard. However, Tom is really several centuries old. He has a condition that causes him to age very slowly (although he will ultimately die). He and others like him are controlled by the Albatross Society, which has one very hard and fast rule: Never fall in love. I adored this novel, its hero, Tom, the rich cast of characters he meets during his long life, and the lessons he learns and offers about life and love.
  • The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd: This is my one thumbs down read. A woman in London, England becomes obsessed with a man who was imprisoned for 20 years for the brutal murder of a young girl. After watching a true crime documentary about him, the woman starts writing letters to the man in prison, and eventually comes to the U.S. to meet him, and marries him (while he is still in prison.). The man gets released from prison, based on evidence brought out in the documentary, and now the two can live happily ever after. But they don’t. He is not quite who he seems, and she is incredibly naive. I didn’t like any of the characters, and found the whole story hard to believe.
  • CSNY 1974: I loved this CD by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, which features live concert performances of some of their greatest songs. Anyone who appreciates wonderful vocal harmony will like this album.
  • Hidden: DVD/BD: This SF-Horror thriller features a family that is hiding underground from unknown forces threatening them (known only as The Breathers). I really enjoyed this movie, It didn’t hurt that Alexander Skarsgard (from the True Blood series) was one of the main characters.
  • I, Tonya : DVD/BD: I basically enjoyed this fictionalized account of the life of the talented figure skater, Tonya Harding, and how her world comes crashing down when her ex-husband conspires to injure Nancy Kerrigan (a fellow Olympic hopeful) before the 1994 Olympics. Margot Robbie as Tonya and Allison Janney as her mommy dearest, gave particularly spectacular performances. However, I though the movie dragged in parts and could have been shortened a bit.

Ashley:

  • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda: I actually liked the movie, Love, Simon better.
  • The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer: I didn’t get very far into this, the characters were flat and boring.
  • Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake: I loved this middle grade book so much! I may have cried ugly tears while reading it in public. It was so sweet and sad.
  • Killing Eve on BBC America based on the book Codename Villanelle by Luke James. This is such a fun show! Sandra Oh plays a middle aged MI5 agent who longs to be a spy, as he desk job does little to satisfy her. She’s soon on the trail of a prolific assassin, living her dream of being a spy. It has it all, suspense, drama, and comedy!
  • Princess Cyd: This indie film tries a little too hard to be serious and literary, but the cast is great, and it’s a pretty sweet film. It also boasts a fantastic genderqueer actor.
  • Rebels on Pointe: Ballet Trockadoro De Monte Carlo is a ballet company made up of men, who have female ballerina personas. They perform traditional ballets in their “drag” personas, but back it up with actual technique. They are all fantastic dancers, and the great dancing mixed with comedy is fun to watch!
  • Westworld: I liked this series more than i thought i would, the mystery was fun, and it’s not as gratuitous as other HBO shows.
  • A Quiet Place: Such a good horror film! If you like your horror tension filled and not bloody.
  • Call the Midwife: Season 7 on PBS

Debora:

  • A Murder in Time and its sequel, A Twist in Time by Julie McElwain: These books combine two of my favorite things: historical fiction and time travel. The premise is that FBI agent Kendra Donovan finds herself in 19th century England. Of course, there are murders for her to solve, but as a woman with crime-solving skills, Donovan must navigate the norms of the era. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a page turner like these two books.
  • Victoria by Daisy Goodwin: OK, it took me until the end of the story to realize that the PBS Victoria series was written by the same author and throughout the novel, I was amazed at how similar the series was to the book. I loved the writing, the characters, and the insight into this fascinating monarch.

Louise:

  • I had the pleasure of listening to Chris Bohjalian’s novel Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands. Emily Shepherd is a resilient young woman who, after the loss of her parents in a tragic accident, ends up homeless. Hope is never totally missing in this poignant, moving and beautifully told tale. Includes an interview with the author and Grace Blewer, the reader (Bohjalian;s daughter) at the end of the audiobook. Attention all dog lovers, you will be moved when you read about the family dog, Maggie. This novel is notable for its first person narrative and the realistic and believable point of view of a troubled teen. If you don’t mind some alcohol abuse, some literal nuclear meltdowns and you love great character development in a New England setting, this is your book.
  • I am currently reading Coffee With Freud by Brett Karr, illustrated by Allison Bechdel. This is an entertaining look at the psychoanalytic model developed by Freud with a very creative premise. Freud agrees to be interviewed at a Vienna coffeehouse by Brett Karr. Yes, he comes to the living world for one day in order to answer some questions and provide insights into his life and the creation of psychoanalytic therapy. The reader is entertained and can decide for him or herself whether the cigar is just a cigar or not. Apparently, Brett Karr has also written a book called Tea With Winnicott which takes a similar approach to helping the reader to understand about Winnicott’s groundbreaking observations about object-relations theory. This book is entertaining and educational at the same time and is really a pleasure to read.
  • Wally Lamb’s novel, I’ll Take You There, as read by George Guidall, has a very creative premise. The main character of this novel, Felix Funicello, (apparently from the Lamb novel Wishin’ And Hopin’ which I have not yet read), gets to view and enter his past on film. (kind of like Woody Allan’s Purple Rose of Cairo) He is aided by a ghost who appears to him. This is a very entertaining novel and the reader learns about Felix’ life and some of the family secrets that affected the entire Funicello household. Although I am still listening to this book, I am ready to heartily recommend this to anybody who enjoys a good novel with some family secrets. The book includes lots of details from the fifties and the sixties that baby boomers and Mad Men fans can relate to.
  • I heartily recommend Audrey Niffenegger and Eddie Campbell’s new novel/graphic novel, Bizarre Romance. This wonderful collaboration has short stories and vignettes in both traditional written and graphic format. They include a man who has pesky angels who are singing night and day in his attic, a woman trying on a Halloween costume who falls into a mirror and lands in another world where she is queen. She ends up married to a man with whom she has a daughter who looks like a badger. The illustrations are delightful, the stories funny and fantasy filled. There are new takes on what the world of fairies is really like. The creativity, the whimsy, the humor, the romance. Such a delight! The angels sing as you read this lovely book and they are not annoying.

Lisa:

Laura:

  • Changed for Good : a Feminist History of the Broadway Musical by Stacy Wolf: Wolf examines musicals from the 1950’s through the the first decade of the 21st century through a feminist lens. She examines specific titles from each decade through most of the book and then devotes the last two chapters to Wicked. I enjoyed her analysis as well as the background information on current events during the various decades as well as the history of musicals during the time periods. I would love to chat with her on why she chose to include certain shows and not others. I would also be curious about her thoughts regarding the shows that have been released in the years since the book’s publication.
  • White Houses by Amy Bloom: This is a fictionalized version of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and her likely lover, Lorena Hickock. The novel varies back and forth between time periods, and Lorena, like a lot of Bloom’s protagonists, is not a fully realized character. I do enjoy Bloom’s writing style and mainly enjoyed this novel, but I’m curious to read one of the other novels about the women’s relationship or the biography, Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn to get a better grasp of the story.
  • Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation by Judith Mackrell: Mackrell devotes two thoughtful lengthy chapters each to six well known “flappers”, Diane Cooper, Nancy Cunard, Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, and Tamara de Lempicka. Mackrell does a nice job of setting the scene as well as illustrating race, gender, and economic politics from that era and what has changed and what has stayed the same.
  • Justice League: There is potential for a good movie in here, somewhere, and some of the characters are fun, and, yes, it’s better than Batman vs. Superman, but this movie bored me. Do yourself a favor and watch Wonder Woman or Black Panther a second time.

Kim:

  • I’m currently reading Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Natural Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich. It’s an extremely moving examination of the tragedy that took place near Pripyat in 1986. Some of the stories are only a paragraph long, others a few pages, all are gut-wrenching and put a very human face on the impact of this nuclear accident. I was born in the same year and only had a pop culture/historical understanding of the events before reading this book.
  • I recently read The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani and loved it. If you can get past the first page it’s worth it. It’s a cutting look at the socioeconomics of nannying. Slimani gets at the inherent tensions as well as the joys of nanny-employer relationships, while also creating a really suspenseful and engaging story. I couldn’t put it down and finished it in a few hours.
  • Another short read I highly recommend: Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro. She’s an author and longtime producer of This American Life. In this narrative, she shares scenes from her marriage and life in scenes that reflect how we grow together and apart- or separately together. She’s honest, open, and insightful and this book is instantly relatable and familiar to anyone who has been in a long-term relationship of some kind.
  • If you still haven’t read The Power by Naomi Alderman– DO IT. It’s a dark take on what might happen if women had more physical power than men. It’s sci-fi grounded in reality. It made me squirm throughout.
  • I just watched I Am Evidence, an HBO documentary about the backlog of untested rape kits across the country. It packs a lot of emotion into 87 minutes and it’s important not only to bear witness, but to take action to help work through this backlog and make sure the culture that allowed this to happen will change.
  • What I’ve been listening to: as a longtime Weeknd fan, I’ve been trying to get into his newest effort My Dear Melancholy. It’s not there for me…but maybe it will grow on me? If you’re into him at all, go back and check out his 2011 mixtape House of Balloons instead. Same for the new J. Cole album, KOD. It’s no Forest Hills Drive but it’s pretty good and it’s getting in my head the more I give it time.

Casey:

Vanessa:

Dana:
Recently Read:

Currently Reading:

Children’s Books:

Staff Reads — March 31, 2018

Book Projector Treble Clef

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Kerry: Just read The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks. A fast read with lots of twists!

Tory:

Laura:

  • On the Way to the Wedding by Juia Quinn: I love this series of romance novels, featuring the Bridgerton siblings in 19th century England. The characters are well developed and the story is fun. The e-book version had an epilogue which had a plotline that seemed to come from nowhere, but overall, I enjoyed the ride.
  • Triangle by Katharine Weber: Rebecca and her partner, George, are devastated when her beloved grandmother, Esther, passes away. Esther was the last survivor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and, as Rebecca and George learn, may have been hiding some secrets regarding events before and after the fire. Readers hoping for a historical fiction account of early 20th century New York City may be disappointed to learn that most of the book takes place in 2001 and that the Triangle fire serves as more of a backdrop. I enjoyed the prose, descriptive sentences, and the development of both Rebecca and George and their relationship. There is one side character that comes across as a little too silly and I figured out a twist, but these are minor quibbles with an otherwise thoughtful book.
  • Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier (Graphic Novel): Catrina and her family move to a new town for the sake of the health of her younger sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis. Catrina and Maya learn that ghosts inhabit the town as their new friends get ready to celebrate The Day of the Dead. I’m a big a fan of Raina Telgemeier’s work and I enjoyed this non-traditional ghost story as well her touching and realistic take on young sibling relationships.
  • I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez: I was excited to read this nominee for the National Book Award, featuring the story of Chicago born and raised Julia, who is culture clashing with her parents who emigrated from Mexico. This coming of age story features a likable but flawed protagonist, making her seem real. There are a lot of plot points and themes in this novel, and it can be hard to keep every plot point straight. I chose to think of the novel as a series of vignettes or short stories rather than one long narrative and that made it work better.
  • The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory: This refreshing book had me at the positive review from Roxanne Gay. For one, I really like and respect Roxanne Gay. For another, how cool that Roxanne Gay likes romance novels and is not afraid to admit it! This novel details the romance of Alexis and Drew, starting with their meet cute in a broken elevator and continuing with their long distance romance. Although they have their problems like any couple, Alexis and Drew have a very positive and healthy relationship. Situations that would be contrived in a lesser romance novel are dealt with in a refreshing way and are not dragged out.
  • Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis: When her mother passes away, Tiffany must move across the country to live with the father she has never met. Along with her father, she must contend with suddenly having four sisters and a new stepmother, and her father’s strict rules. I enjoyed this family story, though there is a subplot which proved to be distracting and, ultimately, irrelevant. (This book is scheduled to be published in May. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy.)
  • 806 by Cynthia Weil: Three teenagers, who were conceived via the same sperm donor, go on a road trip to find him. This is a great and intriguing premise that I wish had been executed better.
  • Call the Midwife (Television Show): This lovely British drama about midwife nurses in the East End of London during the 1950’s is a great binge watch for the waning gloomy days of winter.

Mary R.: Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson!!!! Touching and well written story about a little girl whose parents divorce. I cried like a baby. Definitely one of my favorites.

Pat O.:

Debora: In honor of Women’s History Month, I have 3 titles that have women from history – both actual and fictional – as heroines.

  • The Second Empress by Michelle Moran: This novel takes you right into the underbelly of the Napoleon court. The book has 3 narrators: Napoleon’s sister Pauline, her Haitian servant Paul, and Princess Marie-Louise of Austria who is obliged to marry the Emperor to prevent war. Fascinating history lesson with lots of info from the women’s perspectives.
  • Trans-sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian: For anyone who wants to understand better what it’s like to be transgender, this novel explores the many complex issues and feelings through a love story.
  • City of Light by Lauren Belfer: Set against the backdrop of the birth of the electric industry in 1901 Buffalo and the Niagara Falls area, this is the story of a young woman with a past. The novel has murder, intrigue, and a strong female protagonist.

Ashley:

  • One True Way by Shannon Hitchcock: A sweet and necessary middle grade book about a young girl figuring out she’s gay in the 70s.
  • White Houses by Amy Bloom: A historical fiction account of the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. I wanted to like this book, but it just felt so slow.
  • The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu: Follows the lives of several women after they experienced a tragedy together at summer camp. It was a quick read.
  • Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast: This graphic novel, written as a somewhat guide to NYC, sort of a love letter to what the author loves about it is so charming and funny. I highly recommend it.
  • The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule: All I knew about Ted Bundy before now was that he went to my high school and he was able to take young women in broad daylight because he was a pretty good looking guy. After reading a thriller based on him, I decided to read more.
  • Watched Love, Simon: “Everyone deserves a great love story. But for seventeen-year old Simon Spier it’s a little more complicated: he’s yet to tell his family or friends he’s gay and he doesn’t actually know the identity of the anonymous classmate he’s fallen for online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying and life-changing.” Go see it!
  • Everything Sucks! On Netflix Have 90s nostalgia? Check out this series on Netflix about a bunch of teens growing up in Boring Oregon in the 90s.
  • Thor Ragnarok: I don’t usually like superhero movies, but I’ll watch anything directed by Taika Waititi. I was not disappointed; it was a fun movie!
  • Lady Bird: I enjoyed it, i wouldn’t say it was the most awesome thing i’ve ever seen, but it was well done. It was neat that it was took place the same year i was a senior in high school.
  • Channel Zero: No End House Like creepy shows? Check out this series from SyFy now on DVD. it’s the second season of Channel Zero, but each season is a different story, so you don’t have to start with the first. “A young woman and her group of friends visit a bizarre house of horrors only to find themselves questioning whether it is a tourist attraction or something more sinister”.

Louise:

  • To anyone who enjoys an engaging story line that you can not let go of, humor, romance, pathos and the feeling that a book would make an excellent movie, please try How To Walk Away by Katherine Center. Fans of Emily Giffin, Jane Green, Janet Evanovich, Liane Moriarty, and Jennifer Weiner will all enjoy this witty, spellbinding, light, yet moving tale. I was hooked from the very first sentence. Literally.
  • Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel: This memoir is beautifully and intelligently written and drawn. Alison Bechdel (author of the comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For) writes about her complicated relationship with her mother and her journey from childhood to adulthood with humor, wit and intelligence. For anyone who has had a complicated relationship with a parent, who has struggled to come into their own, or has lived the examined life. This book will appeal to fans of the graphic novel Hyperbole And A Half by Allie Brosh.
  • I am currently listening to We Are Water by Wally Lamb. This book tells the story of a family in Three Rivers, Connecticut, a fictional town in which many of Lamb’s novels take place. Different characters are telling their story in the first person and, in this entertaining audio presentation, they are read with great expression by a cast of talented actors. This is a good book for readers of psychological fiction. Fans of Pat Conroy, Anita Shreve, Anne Rivers Siddons, and Donna Tartt are a good bet for this audiobook.
    This is not a good novel for people who don’t like to read about trauma and abuse as both of these are present in this story.

Staff Reads — February 2018

Book Projector Treble Clef

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Ashley:

Laura:

  • The Book of Dust, Volume One, La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman: This prequel to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is much more plot driven than the original trilogy. This may be due to the fact that there is no need for world building since the world is most likely already familiar to the reader. The main character, Malcolm is not as well defined as a character as Lyra was in The Golden Compass but he is still a likeable protagonist. He becomes the protector of baby Lyra and meets characters with whom we’re already familiar.
  • The History of Bees by Maja Lunde: Tao is living in China in 1898 and working as a pollinator; George is in Ohio in 2007 and is heartbroken to learn that his son does not wish to carry on the family business of beekeeping; William lives in England in 1852, and seems unsatisfied with his life but becomes obsessed with making a new bee hive. This novel is anything but light and quick but the short chapters make it easy to pick up and put down. It has a little something for everyone as it blends multiple genres from historical to speculative/dystopian to realistic fiction.
  • Evicted by Matthew Desmond: This non-fiction, written in the narrative style, was the February entry for our Thursday night and Wednesday morning book club. Desmond followed eight families in Milwaukee in 2008 as they struggled with bills, rent, and desperate landlords. I dare anyone to read this book and not feel affected by it.

Kate S.

Janet Z.:

Pat A.:

Todd:

Louise:

  • I have heard that Rainbow Rowell is a fabulous writer and I checked out the book Landline. This is a great book for anyone who wants to read a book that is funny, romantic and slightly mystical. Georgie, a talented comedy writer is very dedicated to her work and her family. Her stay at home husband, Neal, is very upset when he learns that his wife needs to work during Christmas week and will not be able to visit his parents due to a fabulous business opportunity.
    Georgie is very upset about this turn of events and stays at her quirky fun mother’s house during this difficult time. Lo and behold, the landline in her childhood bedroom connects to her husband in the past. Is this an opportunity to fix the relationship by stepping back? A sign that Georgie is going crazy? An opportunity to change things so that the relationship does not go forward? (an option Georgie rejects because she loves her two daughters too much to not have them be born.)
    No spoiler alerts here. Read this delightful book and find out.
    If you like this book, I also recommend the delightful novel, Hanging Up by Delia Ephron.
  • Four court gavels up for Anatomy of A Scandal by Sarah Vaughan. If you like strong women protagonists, suspense, and compulsively readable novels, this is the book for you. The book is rich in character, plot and setting. You will feel like you have traveled to Oxford University, Liverpool and London in one novel.
    If you enjoy this book, I recommend : We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley. You will get a sense of upper class New York life and the struggles of those with money and those who plot to get their hands on some of that money.

Nancy D.:
Books:

  • The Hunger by Alma Katsu: Described as “a tense and gripping reimagining of one of America’s most fascinating historical moments: the Donner Party with a supernatural twist.” I read the prepublication of this novel, which is coming out in March, and absolutely loved it. Beautifully written with wonderful character development. The novel brings to life the tragic, true story of the ill-fated Donner wagon train expedition to California during the 1840s. Even the supernatural twist makes sense within the horror of the actual situation.
  • Beneath the Mountain by Luca D’Andrea: In this “atmospheric and brilliant thriller, set in a small mountain community in the majestic Italian Dolomites, an outsider must uncover the truth about a triple murder that has gone unsolved for thirty years.” I personally love thrillers that take place in high, isolated mountain regions and this book fits the bill. At times I thought the language lost a bit in translation (originally written in Italian) and seemed stilted, but overall I got swept up in the mystery and its many twists and turns.
  • I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke: This mystery novel alternates primarily between two main characters: a woman who washes up on an almost deserted Greek island with no memory of who she is or how she got there, and her husband (living in London) who is frantically searching for his wife, who left their home and two small children without a trace. I absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it!
  • The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine: Domestic thrillers are very popular these days and some are better than others. This novel is definitely one of the better ones. The moral of this story might be “be careful what you wish for.”

Audiobooks:

  • The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce: I’m stealing People Magazine’s quote here because it is so true and good: This is “an unforgettable story of music, loss, and hope. Fans of the novel High Fidelity, meet your next quirky love story. Vinyl fans, hold on to your turntables…Joyce’s latest is a buoyant homage to the healing power of music well-played.” I loved everything about this book..the characters, their story, and the music that holds them all together. As a plus, the speaker was fabulous.
  • Artemis by Andy Weir: Following up his hugely successful book The Martian, Weir creates another out of this world novel. This one is based on the moon and its first populated community called Artemis. The protagonist of this funny, action-packed novel is a kick-ass female called Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara, who only wants to move up in her world and somehow ends up involved in a high stakes lunar crime venture. As with his first novel, I didn’t understand all of the scientific and technical terminology, but I stayed involved because of wonderful characters and dialogue.
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: Another well written story by Ng (the author of Little Fires Everywhere), this novel centers around a Chinese American family living in 1970s small town Ohio. It opens with the disappearance and death of the middle child daughter, Lydia (on whom all the parent’s hopes and dreams are pinned on), and how this loss affects them all. The novel is written from the viewpoints of both the mother and father, and the three children (the oldest son and the youngest daughter), as well as Lydia herself, and moves back and forth in time. I found the story to be a heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting exploration of family dynamics among all too human beings.
  • The Child Finder by Rene Denfield: This novel centers around an investigator who must use her unique insights to find a missing little girl lost three years ago in the woods of Oregon. I loved this suspenseful and atmospheric book, which alternates between the voices of Naomi (the child finder) and a deeply imaginative child.

Films:

  • Happy Death Day DVD: I liked this film much more that I thought I would! The protagonist is a college-aged woman who must relive her own murder every day until she can figure out who killed her. A dark comedic take on the movie Groundhog Day and by the producer of Get Out and Whiplash, two other fantastic films.
  • Hotel Beau Sejour (Netflix): I loved this Flemish-language Belgian supernatural crime drama television series in which a teenager named Kato (caught in an afterlife limbo) investigates her own mysterious death and unravels a web of secrets in her seemingly tranquil village. Strangely, five people can still see and interact with her, and they all play a role in helping her solve her murder.

Debora:

  • Two Irish Lads by Gerrie Burnie is a story of two young men who fall in love with each other in an era when it could kill them both. It’s also an adventure story set in the wilds of Canada in the 1820s and complete with a cast of interesting characters. Beautifully written and laugh out loud funny, it’s a quick read.
  • The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller tells the story of the Trojan War and the special bond between Achilles, the “best of all the Greeks,” and the awkward and lonely prince Patroclus. It is history, love, and the tension of war all rolled into one. Don’t be surprised if it makes you cry.
  • Losing Julia by Jonathan Hull is an amazing first novel told in a compelling, wry voice. Alternating between present day in a nursing home and decades before as a young man in love, this story stayed with me for many, many months.

Initiating Inspiration Book Group at the Waltham Public Library

The Waltham Public Library is introducing a New Book Group, Initiating Inspiration.

The purpose of this book group is to offer a thoughtful mixture of self-empowering and spiritually inspired pieces of literature which are read and then discussed in a welcoming, safe and social setting.  Initiating Inspiration, through agreed upon book choices, is meant to be equal parts inspirational learning and casual fun. We meet every other month on Monday evenings at 7:15 pm.

Meeting Schedule
Monday, January 29: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Monday, March 26: Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
Monday, May 21: How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton M. Christensen
Monday, September 24: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Monday, November 26: The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz

Food for thought and food to snack on at all of our meetings!

Questions?  Contact Louise at 781-314-3429

 

 

 

 

2018 Saturday Morning Book Club

Little Fires Everywhere Radium Girls Nutshell

New for 2018 – a Saturday morning book club! Join us Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. for a cup of coffee and a lively discussion. Books are available at the First Floor Circulation Desk during the month before the meeting. The book club is open to everyone. No registration required.

2018 Reading List

March 10
What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons

April 12
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

May 19
Lonely City by Olivia Laing

June 9
The Sea by John Banville

July 21
Marlena by Julie Buntin

August 18
Nutshell by Ian McEwan

September 8
Faith by Jennifer Haigh

October 20
Radium Girls by Kate Moore

November 17
Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

December 8
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Staff Reads — New Year 2018!

Book Projector Treble Clef

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Tory:

Greg:

Marie:

Debora:

  • Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow: It took me 6 weeks, but I’m glad I finished it. Reading it I realized how little has changed since the American Revolution: fake news, political backstabbing, scandals – it’s all there in Hamilton’s time.
  • The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs: This was a great companion piece to the Chernow book, because the novel is historically accurate, but the info is more easily digested in fiction form.
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett: I was somewhat reluctant to read this, because I didn’t enjoy Bel Canto. But, only 1 chapter in and I’m hooked. The writing is often funny and the characters interesting. Looking forward to seeing what happens!

Laura:

  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders: I really enjoyed this science fiction/fantasy/romance hybrid in which science and magic come together to either save or end the world. Protagonists Patricia and Laurence felt very real, with relatable flaws. The tone is both humorous and foreboding and I missed Patricia and Laurence when I finished the novel. This is a good read alike for those who enjoyed the fantastical elements and doomed love story in The Night Circus or for those who appreciated humor along with the world ending in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
  • Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: This plot-driven historical novel was a quick read and left me wanting to know more about “orphan trains”. The novel alternates between present day and the first half of the 20th century. I found the historical moments more compelling.
  • Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (audiobook): While I’ve always appreciated Springsteen’s songs, I am not one of his super fans and would never think to read his memoir, until a member of one of my (non Waltham Public Library) book clubs suggested it. To my surprise, I did enjoy hearing about his tales of early performances, growing up in New Jersey, and his family. Springsteen is a good storyteller and a good narrator (once I got over the fact that I thought he sounded like someone imitating him).
  • The Viceroy’s House (DVD or Netflix): This historical film is set in 1947-1948 and is the story of the independence and partitioning of India/Pakistan. I’m ashamed that I didn’t know much about this moment in history before I watched this film and look forward to reading The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India’s Partition which inspired director, Gurinder Chadha.

Kelly:

  • Choosing Civility by PM Forni: Hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s an inspiring short read that answers the question, “Why shouldn’t I beep at that (guy)!” in a smart way.
  • Hamilton: Original Broadway Cast Recording: I’m embarrassingly late to this party, but Hamilton is worth the hype. Technically I’m listening to it, but it’s all good because I am also reading the Alexander Hamilton bio from Chernow which is 800 pages.
  • Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller: I’m a huge Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, and Miller does the entire series proud with this homage to Laura’s mother, Caroline. The Little House series is great for any age, but for grown ups who’ve already read through the series a million or so times, this is an excellent read (Laura Ingalls Wilder society approved too!). Related, I have a hold on: Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser. It’s also getting great reviews and should be a nice companion piece for the grown up Little House fans.
  • Origin, the latest Dan Brown. THE LATEST DAN BROWN. Remember The Da Vinci Code? I don’t believe in being late to work, but one time I was late to work (YEARS AGO) because I could not put down The Da Vinci Code. So I have high hopes for Origin.
  • It’s All Relative : Adventures up and down the World’s Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs: Jacobs is pretty funny. In his latest, he attempts to connect us all on one huge family tree.
  • L’appart : The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home by David Lebovitz: Because Paris (and French food, culture and an apartment reno).
  • Everything Is Awful : And Other Observations by Matt Bellassai: This guy is really funny and I like his videos, so how bad can the book be?
  • The Magnolia Story by Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines: I know, shiplap, but honestly, it wasn’t the worst thing I read. This would not be a terrible gift if you know someone who loves the show.
  • Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street: The New Home Cooking by Christopher Kimball: The genius behind America’s Test Kitchen is now focusing on Milk Street – and this cookbook follows that journey. It’s awesome and beautiful and everything you hope for from a cookbook.
  • The Hating Game by Sally Thorne: The most fun, cute, fluffy, love story I’ve read, and it’s very well-written. If love and joy are your thing, you will love this book. If hate and misery are your thing, read this book.

Doreen: Fredrik Backman’s The Deal of a Lifetime: Moving short story.

Amber:

  • Broadchurch – Season 3 (Netflix): This well-written, well-acted British drama is quietly devastating. Season three could be watched as a stand alone but builds on events that occurred in seasons one and two so I recommend starting at the beginning.
  • G.L.O.W. (Netflix): Set in 1980s L.A. about a group of women (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) selected to be part of the first women’s wrestling league. As a child of the 80s (and fan of the WWF in my childhood), I am a bit biased but the season finale was one of the best television episodes I watched all year.
  • Insecure (DVD): Full disclosure: the language may be a bit off-putting but the writing on this show is outstanding. I am slightly obsessed and desperately awaiting a season three release date. This one is binge-worthy.
  • Sex Object by Jessica Valenti: Published in 2016, this bracing and relevant memoir is a must-read for anyone who’s paying attention. #metoo #feminism
  • Evicted by Matthew Desmond: Along with Sex Object (see above) and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, this is a must-read. (editor’s note: We’ll be reading this at the Waltham Public Library book club on February 15 and 21.)
  • Smitten Kitchen Every Day: This new collection from well-known blogger Deb Perelman contains a recipe that got my kids to eat brussel sprouts and like them.

Pat O.:

Ashley:

  • Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed: Interesting if a bit icky feminist dystopia story.
  • There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins: YA thriller/horror novel with some great moments of suspense!
  • The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman: A wonderful companion novel to Practical Magic. Her writing is so beautiful and full of magic!
  • Watched Mindhunter on Netflix.
  • Watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime.

Louise: I am currently reading Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. This is a Teen Book, technically speaking, but this 59 year young librarian is enjoying every minute. Our main character, Aza, is a very bright sixteen year old who has OCD. Her best friend, Daisy, wrotes Star Wars fan fiction and can tell you everything you need to know about wookies and whether or not they should get involved with humans. The two of them are trying to solve the mystery of a wealthy friend’s father’s disappearance. The characters are beautifully drawn and the plot is compelling. Get on the list for this one!

Mary V.:

  • Bibliomysteries compiled by Otto Penzler: This is a collection of short mystery stories all of which have something to do with books. Some of them are very good.
  • The Face of Deception by Iris Johansen: This is the first book in a series about a forensic artist. This first book was very good and involves a sitting president and his conspiring minions.
  • The Other Woman’s House by Sophie Hannah: An insecure woman suspects her husband of cheating on her. As she tries to discover the truth, she encounters more trouble than she can handle. It has a very surprising ending.
  • I am finishing The Liars’ Gospel by Naomi Alderman. This is a novel that takes place in the early first century after the crucifixion of Christ.
  • I am watching all of the Midsomer Murders for the third time and enjoying them as much as I did the first time.

Casey:

Luke:

2018 Waltham Public Library Book Club Selections

The Underground Railroad In the Country We Love House of Names

Announcing the 2018 reading list for the Waltham Public Library Book Club!
Choose to come on Thursday evening at 7:15 pm or Wednesday morning at 11:00 am. Books are available at the First Floor Circulation Desk during the month before the meeting. The book club is open to everyone. No registration required. And we always provide snacks!
Print this list!

Staff Reads — November 2017

Book Projector Treble Clef

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Kerry: Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan. Amazing book!

Louise: I just finished listening to Daniel Palmer’s book Trauma on my Libby by Overdrive App. The library was fortunate to have Daniel present as part of our National Novel Month Programming. This book is a medical thriller that takes place in the Boston area. Daniel’s father was Michael Palmer and Daniel completed this book after his father passed away. I could not put this book down and recommend Trauma to all medical thriller lovers. If you like ER, Robin Cook or Tess Gerritsen, look no further. Fans of Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series will also enjoy this book as we have a nefarious plot going on that our hero needs to stop for the sake of its innocent victims.

Ashley:

Janet Z.

  • From a Room: Volume 1 by Chris Stapleton / Music CD: This album was voted the Country Music Association’s Album of the Year. Am not even a country music fan and I loved it!
  • Hunger by Roxane Gay / Audio Book on CD: Ms. Gay is a gifted writer and narrator. The NY Times review (7/14/17) describes this work well . . .
    “At its simplest, it’s a memoir about being fat — Gay’s preferred term — in a hostile, fat-phobic world. At its most symphonic, it’s an intellectually rigorous and deeply moving exploration of the ways in which trauma, stories, desire, language and metaphor shape our experiences and construct our reality.”
  • Girl Up by Laura Bates: Amazon describes this book as “an empowering survival guide [that] provides no-nonsense advice on sex, social media, mental health, and sexism that young women face in their everyday life—from one of the emerging leaders in the feminist movement.”

Lisa: I am listening to Hamilton the Musical and enjoying a new television show called Wisdom of the Crowd where a tech savvy group creates an app that uses public input to solve crimes.

Laura:

  • A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl: The world of comic cons, as seen through the eyes of former science fiction TV star, Valerie Torrey, her son, Alex, Brett, a comic illustrator, and Gail Pope, a comic book writer writing for fictional versions of Marvel and DC. The setting of the three different conventions is a character, itself, and provides descriptive detail for those who are not familiar with the world of cons and fandom. Not everyone’s backstory was as compelling as others, but I enjoyed this novel, regardless. As someone who has enjoyed more than my share of science fiction television shows, I recognized a lot of elements in Valerie’s show, Anomaly.
  • Speaking of such television shows, I listened to audiobook versions of the new X-Files: Origins prequels in which readers meet teenage versions of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. In Agent of Chaos by Kami Garcia and read by Will Damron, 17 year old Mulder, through the help of his two friends, Gimbel and Phoebe, try to solve the murder and kidnappings of some local children. In Devil’s Advocate by Jonathan Maberry and read by Emma Galvin, 15 year old Dana Scully is having images regarding the gruesome death of some of her schoolmates and enlists the help of her sister, Melissa, and new friend, Ethan. Though the books take place around the same time and only a few miles away from each other, there are no scenes in which teenage Mulder and Scully run into each other. I was bracing myself for it and was relieved that neither author deigned to do that. That being said, there are a few too many coincidences, one of which that both Mulder and Scully spend time in a new age store called Beyond, Beyond, which was crucial in both of their mysteries. The books are entertaining, though, and I think the authors captured each character’s on screen personality. That being said, I have read X-Files fanfiction that centered on Mulder and Scully in their pre-FBI days that I have enjoyed more.
  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: I read this beautifully written novel on the enthusiastic recommendation of my co-worker, Nancy D. This family saga, starting in 18th Ghana, starts with the story of two half sisters, Effia and Esi, who have never met and whose paths in life diverge. Esi is sold into slavery and taken to America, while Effia remains and marries a White British soldier. Each chapter tells the story of the following generations through the eyes of one of the children. The writing is very lyrical and is both hopeful and discouraging, if that makes any sense. This is a good readalike if you like other family sagas such as Roots by Alex Haley and The Family Orchard by Nomi Eve. If you enjoy reading fiction about Ghana, you may also like Kwei Quartey’s mystery novels.
  • The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, read by Carol Bilger: We were very lucky to host Anita Diamant at our library, last week. She was a gracious and thoughtful speaker. I’m embarrassed to admit that while I read The Boston Girl and Good Harbor, I had never read her first novel. So far, I’m enjoying the story of Dinah, a minor character from the Bible and daughter of Leah and Jacob. As with other Diamant novels, the story centers on the strength and friendship of the women and expands on their roles, some of which were almost footnotes in biblical history.

Doreen:

Seana: Seana is reading Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds and The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn. She’s re-reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

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