Congratulations to Bentley University on their Centennial!!! They’ve advanced from just a single classroom offering accounting studies to a world-renowned university, still best known for their business expertise. Come see our display outside the Waltham Room and participate in Bentley’s social media contest! Take a photo of the mascot Flex, send it off, and be entered to win! Click here for details.
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA)
105 Chauncey St. Suite 901
Boston, MA 02111
“We serve the Commonwealth’s one million foreign-born residents with policy analysis and advocacy, institutional organizing, training and leadership development, strategic communications, citizenship assistance, and AmeriCorps initiatives that provide capacity-building for community-based organizations.”
International Institute of New England
603-647-1500 (Manchester, NH)
2 Boylston St., 3rd Floor
Boston, MA 02116
“The mission of the International Institute of New England is to invest in the future of our cities and towns by preparing refugees and immigrants for participation in the social, economic and political richness of American life through active citizenship.”
Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights
717 Albany St.
Boston, MA 02118
“Utilizing an innovative, holistic approach we work with survivors of torture and refugee communities from around the world to provide vital care for a healthy body, mind, and soul.”
American Immigration Council
1331 G St. NW
Washington, D.C., 20005
“The American Immigration Council (“Council”), established in 1987, works to strengthen America by honoring our immigrant history and shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration.”
Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants (MORI)
600 Washington St.
Boston, MA 02111
“ORI’s mission is to promote the full participation of refugees and immigrants as self-sufficient individuals and families in the economic, social, and civic life of Massachusetts.”
10 Fairway Street
P.O. Box 260440
Mattapan, MA 02126
“The Haitian-Americans United, Inc. (H.A.U.) is a non-profit organization founded in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to improve the quality of life for Haitians and Haitian-Americans through education, Community Empowerment and cultural development, using an approach where participation and unity are strongly favored.”
Asian-American Civic Association
87 Tyler Street
Boston, MA 02111
“The Asian American Civic Association provides limited English speaking and economically disadvantaged people with education, occupational training and social services enabling them to realize lasting economic self-sufficiency.”
CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) Massachusetts
101 Arch Street
Boston, MA 02110
“CAIR-MA’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote social justice and mutual understanding.”
SAHELI — South Asian Women and Friendship
P.O. Box 1345
Burlington, MA 01803
“Saheli Boston is an organization dedicated to supporting South Asian women and families in the Greater Boston area.”
Russian Community Association of Massachusetts
20 Wheeler St.
Lynn, MA 01902
“Our mission is to assist newly arriving refugees with integration into American society in every aspect. We strive to accomplish this through the promotion of self-sufficiency, the building of bridges with the target community, and fostering the maintenance of the refugees’ cultural identities.”
Greater Boston Legal Services
197 Friend St.
Boston, MA 02114
“GBLS provides free civil (non-criminal) legal assistance to low-income people in Boston and thirty-one additional cities and towns.”
Community Legal Services and Counseling Center
1 West St.
Cambridge, MA 02139
“Community Legal Services and Counseling Center provides free civil legal aid and affordable psychological counseling to low-income people. Our services combat the effects of poverty and violence by helping clients and their children meet basic human needs for safety, income, health and housing.”
English at Large
800 West Cummings Park
Woburn, MA 01801
English at Large offers free conversation groups at the Waltham Public Library to adult intermediate and advanced English speakers, as well as individual instruction.
WATCH: Breaking Barriers
24 Crescent Street
Waltham MA 02453
“Breaking Barriers at WATCH is an adult education, training, and leadership program for immigrants of all nationalities. The program expands the skills and strengthens the voice of immigrants in the Waltham community.”
Waltham Family School
517 Moody Street
Waltham, MA 02453
“Waltham Family School (WFS) empowers English Language Learner families to be literate, self-sufficient and connected to the greater Waltham Community.”
Project Literacy @ Watertown Free Library
Watertown Free Library
123 Main St.
Watertown, MA 02472
“Project Literacy offers free services to adults learning to read, write, or speak English. Many are immigrants who are studying English and learning about American culture and some are native or nearly fluent English speakers who are improving their literacy skills.”
Massachusetts Adult Literacy Hotline
“The Massachusetts Adult Literacy Hotline provides referrals to over 300 adult education programs that offer one-on-one tutoring, small-group or classroom instruction to adult learners. We provide information about basic reading, math, adult basic education, English language training, family literacy, High School Equivalency Test preparation or testing sites.”
Jan: I read the new book by Julian Fellowes Belgravia. Of course, he is the famous author of fiction all Anglophiles recognize: Snobs; Past Imperfect; Gosford Park, and Downton Abbey. This latest gives us all the twists and turns and surprises we’ve come to expect in an epic story. You’re sure to love this engrossing read.
Missing, Presumed : a novel / Susie Steiner: Another great British crime novel with superb character development.It centers around a young woman who goes missing and the implications to her family and friends as the investigation into her whereabouts continues. The author reveals frustrations involved in missing person cases, plus harmful effects of media on the processes used.
Behind Closed Doors / B. A. Paris: A psychological thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat.It was creepy, disturbingly so but I was unable to put it down!
Bookshop on the Corner /Jenny Colgan: This book was the perfect antidote to all the crime and psychological thrillers I seem to read on a regular basis. It was a perfectly delightful read about a librarian with a gift for finding the perfect book for her readers. However Nina is facing a crisis, her library is being closed for redundancy. She ends up purchasing a large van, perfect for a mobile bookshop and moves to the wilds of Scotland! And there her life and adventures really begin to flourish.Heartwarming with a great message.
The Trespasser / Tana French: Have just started reading this novel by one of my favorite authors, Tana French. Tana is an Irish writer who has an uncanny knack for character development, especially the characters who reside in the Dublin murder Squad. Antoinette Conway, is a woman detective in a man’s world. I know this won’t disappoint.
The Family Fang / DVD: Nicole Kidman, Jason Bateman and Christopher Walken are the stars in this dysfunctional family story line. It is funny, perceptive, thought-provoking.
A Tale of Two Cocktail Books…
The Essential New York Times Book of Cocktails: Along with over 350 recipes for cocktails, many from current NY establishments, this collection also includes essays written by well-known cocktail writers. The book is primarily divided by drink with chapters on the negroni, Martini, and Manhattan for instance, along with sections that encompass wine, beer, bitters and champagne, as well. The recipes are simple to follow but many require ingredients that may not be on hand at a home bar. However, I found several cocktails that I was able to put together without a trip to the store, including recipes that allow me to combine my love for cocktails with my love of beer into one festive drink.
Cocktails for Drinkers: If the ingredients of the NYT book seem unattainable, check out Cocktails for Drinkers. These “not-even-remotely artisanal” (per the cover) cocktails are comprised of four ingredients or less and, along with author Jennifer McCartney’s pithy remarks, will be the salve for your thirsty cocktail-desiring soul.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett: This debut novel appeared on several ‘best of’ lists at the end of 2016 and it was one of my top reads of the year, as well. The title accurately sums up the central theme of the novel but concepts of gender and race also play heavily here. The questions raised within stay with you long after you finish the last page.
2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino: It’s Christmas Eve Eve in this fantastic novel that bebops through one day in the life of several Philadelphia city dwellers. We are introduced to characters at an energetic, almost frenzied pace that brings to life the great jazz music that plays a prominent role in the lives of those we met as well as in the life of the city. Ultimately, this is a story about the power of music that boasts an ending that ranks on my list of best ever.
I’m not usually current with what everyone is reading but I managed to get to this one recently – A Man Called Ove [sound recording] / Fredrik Backman: I didn’t think I would be able to make it through the first disc…as I was not enjoying this story. Almost gave up on it but glad I didn’t. An excellent story about an unhappy man who finds happiness even though he remains true to his cantankerous self.
Also by listening to the book I found I’d been mispronouncing the title – The narrator pronounced the name as Oova! (With the O being a U sound) I was saying Ohve (with the O being an O sound) If that makes any sense! If not you’ll have to get the book and listen to it hear it for yourself…
The Charm Bracelet : a novel / Viola Shipman: I loved this book – Getting ready for my 50th High School Reunion – I came across my own Charm Bracelet – Saw an essay in a magazine about a Charm Bracelet written by the author Wade Rouse – who used the pseudonym Viola Shipman to honor his two Grandmothers when writing this novel.
Nine Women, One Dress : a novel [sound recording] / Jane L. Rosen: Started this but decided I just didn’t care about the dress – I enjoyed The Charm Bracelet more!
Night [sound recording] / Elie Wiesel: I read this book back in high school because I had to – When Mr. Wiesel passed away and a copy of his story was returned – I decided to revisit it. Meant more to me as an adult though the horrors experienced were difficult to hear.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette [sound recording] / Maria Semple: Couldn’t get into this one – Think I’m too old to get involved with notorious Mom’s dealing with family problems.
Rogue Lawyer [sound recording] / John Grisham: Hadn’t read a John Grisham book in awhile this was a bit different!
11.22.63 (Mini Series): Stephen King was getting a little repetitious for me with all the blood and gore and spooky characters. This was a different Stephen King story and though I didn’t like the subject, I liked his take on how things may have worked out.
Suits: Season one [videorecording]: Well written – though didn’t like the way the story was going with characters making the same mistakes over and over – Don’t think I’ll be watching anymore Seasons of this one.
Eye in the Sky: Good movie – Had me squirming the same way the movie – Tora Tora Tora did!
Silk Season two: Interesting learning about the court system in England. Story line and Characters were in the same vein as the American series The Good Wife.
Here are a couple of Children’s books I liked The Boy who Bit Picasso / Antony Penrose: I was intrigued by the title and really enjoyed this book – a true story. Fun looking thru the eyes of the young boy at Picasso’s life. What a great experience for him – Not sure how much children will enjoy it but this young at heart reader loved it!
Includes photos and drawings also…
The Book with No Pictures / B.J. Novak: This book is the opposite of my previous “Children’s Read”, The Boy Who Bit Picasso – I think I would enjoy reading the book to a child or two! Fun fun fun and silly too!
The Book that Matters Most by Ann Hood: Ava, whose husband recently left her for the a yarn graffiti artist (aka the “Yarn Bomber”) finds solace in a local book club. This year, the members must choose a book that matters most to them. This quick paced book is full of coincidences and some plot contrivances, but Ava is a strong female character and the book club members make for interesting side characters.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, narrated by Hope Davis: Ann Patchett’s worst books are better than a lot of authors’ best, and so, I eagerly read (or listen, in this case) to her newest titles. This loosely autobiographical novel tells the story of the blended Keating and Cousins Families. The alternating (third person) viewpoints and timeframes make for a nice leisurely pace and I found myself very much caught up in the saga of this family. Davis’s narration also gave the story even more depth.
Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung: This teen Australian novel is the story of Lucy, the daughter of immigrants from Vietnam, who leaves her public school for a prestigious private school, ruled by a group of girls known as “The Cabinet”. This plot driven novel is a good view of the immigrant experience, and also a good readalike for the movie, Mean Girls.
Kindred by Octavia Butler: This classic time traveling novel is harrowing! Dana, an African-American woman, keeps going back in time, accidentally, crossing paths with her slave owner ancestor, who is, increasingly, more deplorable. Although time travel does provide as a device for the plot, this book is very accessible to readers who are not fans of science fiction. Although written in the 1970’s, this book has a very contemporary feel, dealing with issues regarding modern race relations and identity. This book did not feel dated at all.
Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham, narrated by the author (Overdrive): This breezy short read is the story of Franny in the 1990’s, who is trying to make it as an actress in New York. This (assumed) autobiographical novel is a good read for readers who enjoy a lot of dialogue and the New York acting scene.
The Fifty Year Mission:The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman: This Trekkie loved the uncensored and juicy tidbits from behind the scenes involving Star Trek: The Original Series. Some involved have very strong opinions about certain crew and cast members (and huge egos!). I also came away having a lot of sympathy for famed director, Robert Wise, who was (perhaps) unfairly blamed for a lot of the problems with the bland 1979 film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I can’t wait to read The Next 25 Years!
I recently tried multiple recipes from two recently published cookbooks. The Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes from Prohibition Bakery were a huge hit at a dinner party as well as with family members. Chili peppers added to the scotch infused filling and the ganache frosting give it just the right amount of kick without overwhelming the eater. I’m looking forward to trying the mojito and Saucy Pumpkin cupcakes. If baking isn’t your thing, you can always visit the real Prohibition Bakery in New York!
I have my co-worker, Ashley, to thank for introducing me to Eat Like a Gilmore: The Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Gilmore Girls. I know it may seem as if I’m a rabid fan of this show between this and the Lauren Graham book, but I’m much more of a casual fan. Normally, I wouldn’t even buy a cookbook for my favorite TV show, but this cookbook is fabulous. Sookie’s Jalepeno Chipotle Mac and Cheese is delicious and a great way to use left over peppers from the Mexican Hot Chocolate recipe. I consider myself a mac and cheese connoisseur, and this is high on my list. My mouth is watering while I’m writing this!
Brighton by Michael Harvey: I borrowed this book because it takes place in Brighton, Massachusetts. It was very brutal and I am not recommending it.
A Midsummer’s Equation By Keigo Kigashino: This is the third in the series and I did enjoy it. It was better than the second book, but Kigashino has not been able to write a story as good as his first, The Devotion of Suspect X.
Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner: A young woman is missing, but I could not bring myself to care. I finished the book because I wanted to see how it ended, but it was slow.
Points and Lines by Seicho Matsumoto: This book was written in the seventies. It is a murder mystery with a rather surprise ending. I liked it because it was about the murder only. There were no side stories about the lives of the detectives.
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh: This mystery was a little slow for the first part, but became very good in the last part. The twists at the end were very unexpected.
I am now reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I want to learn more about the underground railroad without reading non-fiction. As expected, it is very brutal and disturbing.
Turn: Washinton’s Spies, a series about the American Revolution on AMC. I think that is very well done, but I was surprised how upset I was when the Americans hanged Major John Andre for spying. I knew he was hanged, but I didn’t expect to like him so much. I have never been fond of George Washington, but watching this series makes me dislike him even more.The fourth and final season will not be on television until September, by which time I will have forgotten all about it.
Night School by Lee Child: This is the latest Jack Reacher which goes back in time. Reacher is an Army MP on a special assignment. As usual with Reacher, hard to put down.
Conviction by Julia Dahl: Third installment of the Rebekah Roberts mysteries. These follow a young reporter in Brooklyn as she solves crimes through her reporting. Sort of a grown up Nancy Drew.
The Rift: Uprising by Amy S Foster: Science Fiction features teenagers who were given super human abilities in order to protect “rifts” between other versions of earth. Has a strong, independent female main character.
The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie: Science Fiction/Fantasy with pirates and giant sea creatures! Alo features a strong female main character.
The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron: Interesting Science Fiction/Dystopian novel with twists and reveals that keep the reader guessing.
Channel Zero (on the SyFy channel): Familiar with the term “creepypasta”? It refers to horror legends that are copy and pasted on the internet. Sort of the online folklore/urban legends of our time. Channel Zero is a 6 part horror anthology and the first season is based on the “Candle Cove” story by Kris Straub. The story centers on adults who as children watched an obscure television show that aired for only two months. The same two months several children were murdered.
Christine and the Queens (Music): Heloise Letissier also known as Christine and the Queens is a French singer/songwriter who released her English language self titled album in the states last year. Her melodies and lyrics while catchy, also usually speak to serious subjects like loneliness, feeling different, and the need to express her own desire, which is not often accepted of female performers. She wears only men’s clothes in an attempt to control the male gaze.
Podcast: Secrets Crimes and Audiotape has made a 6 episode audio series of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Well acted and produced,l it makes for a somewhat sinister listen.
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!