- I just finished listening to The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. It’s historical fiction about real-life abolitionist and woman’s suffragist, Sarah Grimke. There are 2 narrators of this audiobook and as someone who listens to way more books than I read in print, I have to tell you that multi-voiced productions are AWESOME!
- I wrote a blog post a few years back about multi-voiced audiobooks. There’s a list in there of a bunch of multi-narrator titles, if audiobooks are your thing.
- I’m currently listening to the Waltham High School One School One Story summer reading book called All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. This ALSO has 2 narrators telling the 2 different perspectives of this story. The fact that the both have 2 narrators is just a fun coincidence.
- And last, but not least, as part of the library’s summer-long Watch! Read! Listen! program, I listened to ANOTHER multi-voiced audiobook of a few of the Jungle Book stories by Rudyard Kipling. The narrators are the famous actors Eartha Kitt & Freddie Jones. Their voices did a great job making the story and the characters come alive!
It wasn’t my plan to seek out these multi-narrator stories this summer, but I’m happy it worked out that way.
- For anyone with Amazon Prime, Catastrophe is a hilarious, irreverent comedy about the unexpected joys and struggles of family-making. Some bold, mature, brutally honest humor, but of a refreshingly non-exploitative, gender-neutral sort that I haven’t seen pulled off as well anywhere else. Check out star Sharon Horgan’s other show, Pulling.
- HBO’s limited series The Night Of is only a few episodes in, but it’s a masterful crime drama so far, brought to you by some of the folks from The Wire, which is a personal favorite. Excellent writing and acting. Beautiful photography and directing that pulls off almost symphonic moments. Plus John Turturro. Love John Turturro. To get your John Turturro fix while waiting, check out the movies, Quiz Show and Barton Fink.
- And if you’ve heard any of Beyoncé’s recent Lemonade but haven’t watched the visual album version, you should. It’s essentially one long music video, but it’s a pretty bold video art project featuring some powerful poetry from Warsan Shire. But listen to the album first. There are wonderful songs on there, and the aggressive video editing can make some of them a little confusing. Both the CD and the DVD are included in the physical release which you can find in the MLN network.
Jan: I read Over the Top and Back: The Autobiography by Tom Jones. It begins: “Let’s start somewhere near the bottom. Early 1983, say. Early 1983 finds me sitting in a drab-colored dressing room in Framingham, Massachusetts…at the Chateau de Ville Dinner Theatre, Framingham’s premier “function room”…two shows per night…” Surprisingly, I was at one of those shows, in awe at being in the presence of an icon, even then. Doing “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”…the one song that can make me melt and cry at the same time. Little did we fans know Tom considered it the bottom of his career, no hits in twelve years, falling from the heights of Vegas to the depths of cabarets. It took his son Mark coming on as his new manager in 1986 to turn his career around- new no. 1 albums and singles, a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, the Concert for Diana, a coach on BBC’s The Voice UK, “Sir Thomas Jones Woodward”. TJ. What a voice!
- The Island by Elin Hilderbrand. Two generations of sisters, Birdie and India, and Birdie’s two daughters, Chess and Tate go to the family home on Tuckerneck Island after Chess’s jilted fiance dies rock climbing. Each woman brings some baggage including tense relationships with their respective family members. The setting, an island off the coast of Nantucket (Hilderbrand’s usual setting), is another character in the story, making this book a literal beach read. If you like soapy family plots with a bit of tragedy to go with your happy ending, this fast paced book is for you!
- The Fangirl Life: A Guide to Feeling all the Feels and Learning How to Deal by Kathleen Smith. What is a fangirl, you ask? Basically, it’s a woman who becomes involved in a fandom of a television show, movie, or book in any degree. If you’re not sure, this book supplies a helpful list, featuring two bullets that may (or may not) apply to me (“You survive boring meetings by imagining two fictional characters making out in a variety of settings” and “You can identify the current story arc of a show based on a female character’s hair.”). Written by a self confessed fangirl and therapist, this book gives fans the right to love their favorite fictional characters and using that love as ways to positively influence their lives in the real world. I didn’t actually realize this book was a self-help book when I first started reading, but it doesn’t make it any less fun, and I found myself laughing when I related a little too much to a scenario!
- The Fall: Series 1 and 2. After several co-workers have spent the better part of a year recommending this show to me, I finally got around to watching this crime drama filmed and set in Northern Ireland. Gillian Anderson (speaking of fangirling) stars as British detective Stella Gibson, called in to aide the Belfast police department in their pursuit of a serial killer. All thoughts of Agent Scully left my mind as I was riveted by Anderson’s performance as the determined, unapologetic, layered Detective Gibson. Probably one of the most interesting female characters I’ve seen in a recent show. Jamie Dornan is very creepy as serial killer, Paul Spector, though I have to admit I got a little tired of his character. When the show returns for a third season, I wouldn’t mind if Stella pursues a different case.
- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child a play by Jack Thorne, based on a story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne. So here it is, the long awaited eighth “official” story in the Harry Potter saga. This play, which officially opened in London on July 31, was released in book format on the same day on both sides of the pond. The script is a quick read (if not a quick day at the theatre, as the production allegedly clocks in at five hours), and I was glad to revisit with some of my favorite characters from Hogwarts, now adults and parents, as well as meet some of their children. (One of whom, in my opinion, is the best character in the play.) Two of the newer characters’ friendship reminded me of the fake fanfiction, “Carry On, Simon Snow” first referenced in Rainbow Rowell’s novel,Fangirl. Surprising, this play actually inspires me to read the published Carry On rather than re-read the Harry Potter novels.
- My Boy Jack, starring David Haig, Daniel Radcliffe (speaking of Harry Potter), Kim Cattrall, and Carey Mulligan. In honor of our Watch! Read! Listen! choice, The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, I watched this film about Kipling’s son, Jack, who was killed in action in World War I, and the consequences it had on the family. Cattrall and Haig (who wrote the original play and screenplay) are excellent as Rudyard and Carrie Kipling. Rudyard Kipling is portrayed warts and all here, and I appreciated that this movie showed him as the complicated man he was.
- I’m currently listening to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and read by Jim Dale, courtesy of our subscription to Overdrive. This extremely descriptive, imaginative novel about a mysterious circus, two magicians, their proteges, and a lot more, is made all the richer by Jim Dale’s narration. I’m not an avid audiobook listener but when I find a narrator I enjoy, I’m riveted. Dale is probably best known to audiobook regulars as the narrator of Harry Potter series, but I know and love him as the narrator of the cancelled too soon narrator of the TV series, Pushing Daisies. This book also gets bonus points from me for having this awesomely hilarious line, “The Burgess sisters arrived together. Tara and Lainie do a little bit of everything. Sometimes dancers, sometimes actresses. Once they were librarians, but that is a subject they will only discuss if heavily intoxicated.”
- The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine. This is the summer reading title for Waltham middle schools. It’s 1958 in Little Rock, Arkansas, one year after the Little Rock 9 integrated Central High School. Segregationists, rather than obey a federal order, to integrate the schools, close the high schools. What happens during the events of that school year are told through the point of view of white junior high school student, Marlee, a quiet girl, who becomes friends with a new student, Liz. When Liz disappears from school one day, Marlee realizes that she needs to speak up in favor of integration, but learns that it’s not so easy. According to the afterward, the author wanted to focus on the year following the integration of Central High School, in order to demonstrate the long struggle regarding integration. Books I would recommend for further reading are: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley; Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Beals; Elizabeth and Hazel by David Margolick; Fire from the Rock by Sharon Draper. Students at Kennedy and McDevitt Middle Schools are encouraged to join us for a book discussion on Monday, August 15 at 3:00 pm.
- Currently reading What She Knew / Gilly Macmillan. It’s a debut novel that tells the story of a mother’s search for her missing son. Rachel and her eight year old son, Ben, are walking in the park when Ben asks if he can run ahead to the swings, she says sure and that is the last time she sees him. I’ve just started it but I am hooked!
- Her Again : Becoming Meryl Streep / Michael Schulman. I’m a long time Meryl Streep fan and I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s a wonderful portrait of a talented actor.
- Disclaimer by Renee Knight. A mysterious book within a book. When Catherine finds a book on her bedside table she is unsure of how it got there, but as she starts to read it,she finds herself as a character in the book. How did the book come into her new house and who is the author? Disclaimer is an unsettling psychological thriller with a creepy central premise. Hard to put down.
- The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffths. I really enjoy the Ruth Galloway series, this is the eighth book in the series . Ruth is a forensic archeologist who assists the police at numerous murder scenes. So once again we meet up with all the entertaining characters involved in the books including Cathbad, a druid and mystic. Griffiths always provides a clever mystery with a wealth of historical detail.
- What the Waves Know / Tamara Valentine. This is a debut novel and if you read it, you won’t be disappointed.I read it in a day and a half and was sad to have it end. It is told through the eyes of fourteen year old, Izabella (Iz) who has not spoken since she was six years old when she experienced a tragic event. The characters and plot are richly developed, it is set on a fictional island off the coast of Rhode Island. It is a thought-provoking and enjoyable novel.
- The Nightingale / Kristin Hannah. It is 1939 in a small village in France as the country surrenders to the Germans and the Nazis occupy the village. It is the story of two sisters who are separated by years as well as ideals. Isabelle is a rebellious eighteen year old who joins the Resistance and never looks back. Her sister, Vianne, has said good bye to her husband as he heads for the Front. Vianne’s home is requisitioned by a German Captain, so she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Hannah has written a beautiful novel that illuminates what women had to endure to survive the war and help those in danger.This novel really celebrates the resilience of the human spirit.
- Lilac Girls : a Novel / Martha Hall Kelly. This novel follows three women, Caroline Ferriday, Herta Oberheuser and Kasia Kuzmerick, starting in 1939. This story is based on real people and actual events. The author has done a remarkable job researching her topic. Once again it tells the story of WWII from the woman’s perspective. If you like historical fiction, this book is for you.
- Currently listening to The Body in the Wardrobe [electronic resource] / Katherine Hall Page, always available on Hoopla. The latest installment in the Faith Fairchild series. It picks up from the last book, Body in the Birches, so the location switches back and forth from Massachusetts to
historic Savannah, Georgia. Katherine Hall Page is one of my favorite traditional mystery writers so I know I won’t be disappointed!
- Recently watched 45 Years– DVD. Starring – Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay. As Kate and Geoff plan to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary they receive some unexpected news that shakes their marriage. Rampling and Courtenay are fabulous together!
- Last Pilot by Benjamin Hancock. Spare, haunting, tender, sparse, this book hits high emotional notes with the smallest of details. The story revolves around the start of the space program and the beginnings of Edwards Airbase in the Mohave Desert. We follow a young couple, struggling with infertility as well as their place in the fast moving world of aerodynamics. The images and feelings will stay with you long after the last page is finished.
- The Boy DVD. Greta (Lauren Cohan from the Walking Dead) as the lead actress led me to believe this movie might be a smidge schlocky. However, despite a rather oft done story line, the acting was great and the suspense both believable and gripping. An elderly couple hire Greta as a nanny to watch their son while they go on a trip. Their son, as our heroine soon finds out, is an over sized doll – or is he? I thoroughly enjoyed it.
- Books: Suicide Motor Club by Christopher Buehlman. Buehlman always writes great literary horror/thrillers, this is his 2nd book featuring vampires.
Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera. A great read about a young Puerto Rican woman trying to figure out feminism, race, sexuality, and how she fits into the world.
- TV: Wayward Pines 2nd season. Based on the book series Wayward Pines by Blake Crouch
Stranger Things on Netflix. (While waiting for this to be available on DVD, check out the movies, Super 8, ET, and The Goonies).
Degrassi Next Class on Netflix. Not quite as good as the first few iterations of the popular canadian series, but i can’t stop watching! (While waiting for this to be available, check out Degrassi, the Next Generation.)
Girl Meets World. Remember Boy Meets World from the 90s? This series follows the adventures of Corey and Topanga’s daughter Riley through the trials of jr high and high school. Full of nostalgia and appearances from old cast members. Including Mr. Feeney.
- Movies: Hunt for the Wilderpeople (in theaters) by the same people who brought us the hilarious fake vampire documentary What We Do in the Shadows. Synopsis: “A boy (Julian Dennison) and his foster father (Sam Neill) become the subjects of a manhunt after they get stranded in the New Zealand wilderness.”
- Music: The Lumineers’ new album: Cleopatra.
Ben Howard’s album: Every Kingdom
- I watched the first season of Silicon Valley and while it was pretty funny, it would definitely be much more entertaining to someone more familiar with the ins and outs and technical aspects of the computer world than I.
- I also watched Sing Street, recommended to me by Nancy D, which was a nice combination of lighthearted fun and drama. Lots of entertaining ’80s style music but not overwhelmingly so.
- Recently, I finally finished the Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater, ending with The Raven King. It was definitely the best and most engaging YA fantasy series I’ve read in a long time. I really enjoyed it.
- I also listened to The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen, what seems at first to be a medieval fantasy book about a young woman coming of age and ascending the throne, but all is not as it seems, with an interesting twist. I enjoyed that enough to continue listening to the next in the series, The Invasion of the Tearling, on Hoopla. However, partway through, I’m not sure it’s living up to what it could have been and it’s feeling too dragged out merely so it can become a trilogy.
- A Gathering of Shadows is the second in the Shades of Magic series by V. E. Schwab, and I am enjoying the series so much that even when I had the opportunity to pick up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I chose to read Schwab’s book instead. Like in the Harry Potter universe, I love the interesting characters and unique set of worlds the author has created.
- And that brings us to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! It’s finally here! So far, I’m relishing being back in the wizarding world, but remembering how much I dislike reading plays. But for another chance to be in this universe, I really can’t complain!
- On Freegal, I’ve been listening to The Descendants who have been one of my favorite bands since I was in High School. Their new album just came out this week. Sadly Freegal doesn’t have it, but they do have many of their older albums.
- On Hoopla, I read several graphic novels. My favorites were Southern Bastard (Volume 1; Volume 2) and Outcast (Volume 1; Volume 2). Southern Bastard takes a violent & sad look at how football culture rules the small towns of the South. Outcast is by the Walking Dead’s Robert Kirkman. There are no zombies…it is about a small town, the super natural, and the occult.
- On OverDrive, I downloaded A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk. It is about a boy, Melvut, who moved to Istanbul to live with his Dad. With his father, he works as a boza & yogurt seller. While this is a book about Mevlut and his family, it is also about the changes that took place in Istanbul between 1969 and 2012.
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: An amazing debut novel that tells the tale of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, born into different villages in 18th century Ghana. One marries an Englishman and lives in relative luxury in the Cape Coast Castle. The other (unbeknownst to her half sister) is imprisoned below the castle in the dungeon which holds prisoners to be sold in the booming Gold Coast slave trade. The novels traces the stories of the two sisters and their descendants through history up to the present day. The novel is beautifully written and touches upon so many important themes including the complicated bonds of family, and the even more complicated faces of slavery and prejudice in both Africa and the United States. A truly illuminating read.
- Summit by Harry Farthing: This novel is long, but kept me hooked to the end by it’s intriguing story loosely based on real events involving the climbing of Mount Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world. The book follows two climbers, one an English climbing guide in the present day, and another, a German soldier forced to climb the mountain as part of Hitler’s Nazi dream of world supremacy almost 70 years earlier. The author links their stories beautifully and the tale is filled with adventure, suspense, drama and richly developed characters. As any good historical novel should, it sparked my interest in the intriguing history of Mount Everest and the people who risked, and often lost, their lives to reach its summit.
- Two other favorite reads take place in very cold places: Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton: This novel follows Yasmin and her deaf daughter Ruby (highly gifted and sensitive) on a search to find her husband who was reportedly killed in an explosion in an camp in the far reaches of Alaska, where he was studying and photographing native life. Yasmin refuses to believe he is dead, and she and her daughter set out against great odds to make the long journey to find out what really happened. It’s a gripping, suspense thriller which also embraces other themes such the bonds of familial love and environmental threats to a fragile ecosystem. Alternating between the points of view of Yasmin and Ruby, the story flowed quickly and kept me engaged; My Last Continent by Midge Raymond: A gorgeous adventure and love story set against the backdrop of the dramatic Antarctic Continent. It tells the tale of two naturalists, Deb Gardner and Keller Sullivan, both in love with each other and perhaps even more with the land they study. When a large cruise ship sails too close to this land of ice, the action and suspense accelerate with potentially tragic consequences. As with “Quality of Silence,” this novel also addresses the harmful impact that both tourism and global warming are having on a fragile land.
- The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe: This terrific historical novel tells the tale of Anita Hemmings, who, in 1897, became the first black student to graduate from Vassar College. And she did so largely by passing as a white woman. As one reviewer wrote “this fictionalized take on Hemming’s real-life story …animates her struggle to straddle two worlds, each with its own separate definitions of freedom.” This novel contains all the elements of a great story: richly drawn characters, witty dialogue, a wonderful sense of place, and an intriguing and important story. Many of the scenes depict early 19th century Cambridge MA, which makes it especially engaging to our local audience.
- I’m currently listening to Night by Elie Wiesel, performed by George Guidall. In this book, Nobel Peace Prize and Congressional Gold Medal Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel provides an “unforgettable account of Hitler’s horrific reign of Terror.” Though it is technically a novel, this account provides an unmistakable autobiographical depiction of the author’s own devastating experiences in Nazi Germany’s death camps as told through his own 14-year old eyes. Often times (for obvious reasons) it is hard to listen to, but his narrative also captures precious moments of grace, beauty and kindness, offering hope that goodness can ultimately triumph over evil.
- The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield, narrated by Kathleen Early: This is a sassy, funny, irreverent,and sometimes heartbreaking redemption story set in the small town of Quinn, Montana. It focuses on Rachel Flood, a recovered alcoholic who returns to her hometown to make amends for the mistakes she made in her wild youth. The story is filled with unforgettable, sometimes quite crazy characters who alternately shock, amuse, and melt your heart. In this story, the Flood Girls is the name of the town’s all female softball team, coached by Rachel’s mother, which has yet to win a tournament. I won’t reveal the ending, but this story definitely won my heart.
- Case/Lang/Veirs: This new music CD is a collaborative effort between three very accomplished female artists: Neko Case, K.D. Lang, and Laura Veirs. The women wrote all 14 songs and share lead vocals equally, often within the same track. The singing and the songs are gorgeous and haunting and delightful. Although they each have unique voices, they blend and soar in beautiful harmony. This is definitely one of my favorite CDs, and one I can listen to again and again. If you like the Corrs or CSNY, you should take a listen to this CD.
The Waltham Public Library Archives are now on Flickr!! Check out newly digitized collection of historic Waltham postcards!
You’ll find colorful cards from a wide range of years, some vintage, some contemporary. There are both colorized prints and photos. The groups include scenes of streets, houses, businesses, the Charles River, churches, schools, health care, parks, fun, and civic sites. A small sample of the many we own!
Here are your staff reads as you gear up for Independence Day Weekend!
- He Named Me Malala; Directed by Davis Guggenheim; Staring Malala Yousafzai.
“One child, one teacher, one book and one pan can change the world.” ~Malala Yousafzai
This documentary gives an intimate glimpse into the life of Malala Yousafzai. I’ve long admired Malala for being so well spoken, compassionate and composed as she advocates for girls’ and women’s education. Despite being shot by members of the Taliban, she has remained a devout Muslim and firm believer in the empowerment of young women and girls when she could have renounced her religion and deserted her cause. I love this about her. After watching it I felt even more of a connection and love for her. She is not only the superwoman we have heard about, she is also a daughter, sister, friend and student.
Please, Baby, Please; Written by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee; Illustrated by Kadir Nelson.
Ohhh Baby! The writing is sweet, simple and true. The illustrations… extraordinary. Kadir Nelson brings this story to life with his beautiful images depicting a day in the life of a very busy toddler. A great bedtime story to read to kids, and repetitive enough for new readers to have a go.
What Do You Do With An Idea?; Written by Kobi Yamada; Illustrated by Mae Besom.
One of the best books I’ve ever read. What an inspiring read to encourage creativity and individuality. I’m sure many young readers (and adults) will be encouraged to change the world with their own ideas after reading this book.
Janice: I read All the Presidents’ Gardens by Marta McDowell. This is full of fascinating tales which any lover of American history, gardens, or landscape architecture will enjoy. It gives us the Lincoln sons, Willie and Tad, whose pet goats ravaged the carefully kept flowers. We learn about Helen Taft’s famous 3,020 cherry trees planted along the newly designed Tidal Basin in Potomac Park, formerly open water. We even have a Waltham connection: President James Monroe’s goodwill country tour of 1817 found him in July enjoying a feast of strawberries with his old friend Christopher Gore, ex- Massachusetts governor, at his elegantly designed Gore Place, still a favorite tourist site in this city.
Tory: I recently listened to A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab and it was so good! The narrator was very entertaining and fitting. I must admit I judged this book by its cover but I was rewarded. I also read The Raven Boys, which is the first of the Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater, which I couldn’t put down all weekend! Can’t wait to start the next one. Lastly I’m finally reading the Mary Russell book that came out last year, since the newest one just came out and I was behind. Dreaming Spies by Laurie R. King is quite intriguing as usual! Looking forward to the latest Murder of Mary Russell as well.
- Currently reading Wilde Lake : a novel / Laura Lippman.
Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected state’s attorney of Howard County, Maryland, a job in which her widower father famously served. Lu is taking on a murder case that involves a mentally unstable homeless man and a local woman. As she deals with the case she is forced to confront her family’s past and some inconsistencies that have her questioning her memories.
Just finished reading:
- Twisted River / Siobhan MacDonald: A clever thriller that exposes the dangers of secrecy. What could go wrong when two couples swap houses? A couple from Limerick, Ireland and their two children swap their house for a lovely Manhattan apartment owned by Hazel and Oscar Harvey and their two children. Hazel is originally from Limerick so she is anxious to show her family around where she grew up. It doesn’t take long for both families to realize that each host family has secrets that should not be revealed.
- I Let You Go / Clare Mackintosh: I can honestly say this is one of the best psychological thriller I’ve read, completely addictive. After a tragic accident,Jenna has retreated to a remote Welsh village where there is the possibility of moving forward. However things from her past keep pulling her back. There a major twist in the story that you never see coming. I want to read more like this story, very clever and excellent character development. Hard to put down.
- Thursday’s Children : a Frieda Klein Mystery / Nicci French: Thursday’s children is the story of the past, the present, and how the secrets come back to haunt us.Frieda left her home in Braxton twenty-three years ago and hasn’t been back since. Now a young teenage girl, the daughter of an old school acquaintance from Braxton,confides a horrific secret. Something that arouses all of Frieda’s worst memories. Frieda is drawn back to Braxton to see if she can make sense of what has happened.
It’s a well developed story, this is the fourth in the series so I think I’ll go back and start with the first.
- Just finished listening to Splinter the Silence [electronic resource] : a Tony Hill and Carol Jordan Novel / Val McDermid. ALWAYS AVAILABLE ON Hoopla!
Val McDermid’s Carol Jordan/Tony Hill series is back and tremendously enjoyable. In this police procedural, Hill and Jordan join up once again to investigate mysterious deaths that involve vicious cyber-bullying. Carol recognizes that she has an alcohol problem and Tony steps up to give Carol some much needed sound advice and moral support. Can’t go wrong with Val McDermid!
Celeste: I recently read The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister by Charlotte Agell.
- Untwine by Edwidge Danticat: Identical twins, Giselle and Isabelle, are devoted to each other. On the way to flutist Isabelle’s concert, the entire family is in a car accident and Giselle lies in a hospital not knowing the fates of her parents or sister. She looks forward, holding on to the upcoming birthday trip to Haiti to be with family, and backward, as she and Isabelle forge their own identities. This emotional, thoughtful, and, at times, sad young adult novel is a beautiful entry into Danticat’s canon. Giselle is a fully realized character and narrator.
- Me before You by Jojo Moyes: In a small town in England, unemployed Louisa (“Lou”) becomes the caretaker/companion to Will, a quadriplegic. While working together, Will learns to become less bitter, and Lou learns to have more faith in herself, that is, until hearing of Will’s plans. This plot driven fast paced book presents an interesting discussion regarding the treatment of those with physical disabilities as well as the ethics regarding assisted suicide. The characters, however, including the narrator, are not fully realized. Will’s ex-girlfriend and Lou’s current boyfriend are, especially, stock characters. The only secondary character who came alive for me was Treena, Lou’s sister.
- I’m currently reading In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero with Michelle Burford. Guerrero, who currently has supporting roles on two of my favorite shows, Jane the Virgin and Orange is the New Black, was born in the United States to Colombian parents. When she was fourteen years old, and living in nearby Roxbury, Diane came home to discover that her parents were deported. The book explores her life as a child of illegal immigrants, how she was treated here, and how she later became an advocate for other children in her situation. This book is compelling and gives a voice to so many who don’t have one. I’m really enjoying it.
- One of my favorite punk bands from the 90s, Plow United, has a new album out so I downloaded the first few songs of their new album, Three, from the library’s subscription to Freegal.
- I just finished Hap and Leonard by Joe R. Lansdale. It was a fun read of some new short stories from characters who have been around for over 5 years. I have yet to watch the TV show that premiered a few months ago. This book was much different than the splatterpunk books that he is well known for.
Luke: I’ve been reading 2666 by Roberto Bolaño.
- Circling the Sun by Paula McLain: If you liked The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain, you will also enjoy Circling the Sun. This historical auto-biographical fiction novel is based on the adventurous life of Beryl Markham. In 1936 Beryl became the first woman to fly solo East to West across the Atlantic Ocean. This story takes place in early 1900’s, East-Africa. In the novel, Beryl Clutterbuck and her family settle in colonial-Kenya after leaving England in 1904. Her father owns and trains racehorse. Beryl’s mother abandons them after two years of the harsh land and lifestyle. Beryl’s is raised by her father. He teaches her all about the farm and horse training. Young Beryl is a tomboy and is more comfortable with the Kipsigis people than finishing school. The majority of the story takes place during the 1920s. Beryl is forced to marry at 16 in order to stay in her beloved Kenya, after her father has to give up his struggling horse farm. As determined and independent spirit, Beryl decides to become an apprentice to become the first licensed woman horse trainer. Because of her love of horses, she thrives. As a horse trainer she has successes and failures. She meets and falls in love with rugged Denys Finch Hatton, who inspired Beryl to fly.
- The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom: Wonderful historical fiction novel. Takes place in pre-civil war era, 1791. Story follows the lives of slaves of the Kitchen House and the tobacco plantation master and family in the Big House. Novel told in multiple viewpoints of Lavinia and Belle. Lavinia, an orphaned Irish girl, is taken in by “The Captain” after her family perishes aboard his ship. She is forced to work and live in the Kitchen House. The Kitchen House slaves accept Lavinia, treating her as their own in the kitchen house. Lavinia becomes torn between the Kitchen House family she has grown to love and her slow acceptance into the Big House family. Lavinia looks to Belle like a surrogate mother. Belle is the illegitimate daughter of the Captain. Belle is angry, and struggles with the reality that she will never be considered his blood relative. Belle worries that he might send her away. Despite the fact that she is treated as a slave, the Captain refuses to allow Belle to marry the field hand she is in love with.
Rich characters, intriguing story about indentured servitude, slavery and the horrors that go along with it; starvation abuse and disease and control.
Marie: I’m reading Louisa: the Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams by Louisa Thomas; The Rainbow Comes & Goes: a Mother & Son Talk about Life, Love & Loss by Anderson Cooper & Gloria Vanderbilt; The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue de Martryrs by Elaine Sciolino. I’m listening to the audiobook, The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley.
Pat A.: I just finished The Assistants by Camille Perri. It features lots of young women who come out of college with $$$$$ in college loans and take jobs as personal assistants to high powered men. One of the girls does something that changes her life and the life of many others. (Illegal – sure). Written with humor. A nice beach read.
Camila: Last month I read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Me before You by Jojo Moyes, and Diario de Anne Frank (The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank in Portuguese). I watched the movies, The Big Short and Concussion.
- Children’s Books: Small as an Elephant [sound recording] / Jennifer Richard Jacobson: Abandoned by his mother in an Acadia National Park campground, Jack tries to make his way back to Boston before anyone figures out what is going on, with only a small toy elephant for company.
The Night Gardener / by Terry Fan and Eric Fan: This book caught my eye when I was checking it in. What a delightful, gentle story – great illustrations too.
The Lions of Little Rock [sound recording] / Kristin Levine: Somewhat based on real situations when school integration came to Little Rock, Arkansas in the 50’s. Told as a shy 12 year old experienced it. This is the summer reading selection for the Waltham Middle Schools.
- DVDs: Midsomer Murders, Set 14: Still working our way thru this series – nice fallback when we need something ti watch!
New Tricks. Season 12: Seems like this may be the last Season – I hope not!
- “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” and “What Do You Care What Other People Think?” / by Richard P. Feynman. Physicist Richard Feynman recounts episodes from his life and career and shares his views on modern science. I love Richard Feynman – wish I could write him in on the ballot for president! Unfortunately he passed away in the late 80’s.
- Audiobooks: The Rumor [sound recording] : a novel / by Elin Hilderbrand: Rumors can cause a lot of problems especially in a small community like an island. An interesting story where all the problems caused are pretty much ironed out.
Night Watch [sound recording] / Linda Fairstein: Always enjoy Linda Fairstein’s “adventures” with Alexandra Cooper and her crew in New York City – this story is kind of ripped from the headlines – similar to a rape case involving a French dignitary and the hotel maid who was cleaning his room.
The Black Ice [sound recording] / Michael Connelly: Second in Harry Bosch Series (I’m Reading them out of order) – Harry finds out the murder of a fellow cop he’s trying to solve is more than it seems.
Fear Nothing [sound recording] / Dean Koontz: Looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. I enjoy books that have animals interacting with humans, in some cases to save the world!
Seize the Night [sound recording] / Dean Koontz: Sequel to Fear Nothing I was a bit confused as parts were similar to the first part of the story and I thought I had already read the book – led to a satisfying finish…wondering if the series will continue.
Quinn [sound recording] : a novel / Iris Johansen: Didn’t realize this was a series – got to the end left me at the edge of a cliff went looking for another disc and there wasn’t one. Interesting enough for me to start at the beginning. (Waiting for “Chasing the night” to start)
Bucky F*cking Dent [sound recording] / David Duchovny
I should have realized from the title that this book would be filled with expletives…Seemed like a good story but why so much swearing…too much for me to listen to maybe if I read it – don’t think I will though.
- Brooklyn (DVD/Blu-Ray): An Irish immigrant comes to Brooklyn in the early ’50’s where she quickly falls into a romance with a local guy. However when her past catches up with her, she must choose between two countries and her life in two places. Saoirse Ronan beautifully portrays this young Irish woman. Really enjoyed this movie.
- Fool Me Once (audiobook): Harlan Coben’s newest thriller. I love the twists and turns
Coben puts in each of his stand alone stories. The endings always amaze and this book is no exception!! Don’t miss it!
- Foreign Affairs(audiobook): Stuart Woods – didn’t finish this. I think I am finally done reading/listening to Stuart Wood’s Stone Barrington books.
- The Fall series 2 on DVD. All I can say is bring on Series 3!!!
- The Intern (DVD): Robert DeNiro plays a 70 year old widower who discovers
Retirement isn’t as great as he thought it would be. Then an opportunity comes along for him to get back in the work force as a senior intern at an online fashion site run by Ann Hathaway. This was an enjoyable movie.
- The Obsession (audiobook): Nora Roberts newest novel is about Naomi Carson who as a child her family was torn apart when they discovers her father isn’t the man he portrayed to others in the town or the church. Years later she moves far away to finally put down roots. She buys a beautiful old house, makes new friends including the attractive, Xander Keaton. But as she plans her future, her past is catching up with her.
I hadn’t read Roberts in a long time and I am so glad I took a patron’s suggestion and listen/read this book.
- A LowCountry Wedding: Mary Alice Monroe – I didn’t realize this book was the newest in Monroe’s LowCountry Summer series. The story finds the Muir sisters planning their weddings when a stranger arrives and a long held family secret could stop the festivities. I loved the characters in this story. A great beach read!!
- Bridge of Spies (DVD): Story about the tense negotiations over the recovery of U-2 Pilot Gary Powers in Berlin. Intense storyline with a wonderful cast.
- Spotlight (DVD): Story about the Boston Globe Spotlight team and their reporting of the Catholic Church’s cover up of the molestation of children. This movie won the Oscar this year for Best Movie.
- Shaken (audiobook): This J.A. Konrath book was too gory and gruesome for me. Didn’t get past the first disc.
Here are your staff reads as you gear up for Memorial Day Weekend!
Ashley: Forgive Me if I’ve Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-Waters; The Boys who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose
- The Secret Life of the American Musical: How Broadway Shows are Built by Jack Viertel. This is my favorite non-fiction book I have read, this year. Heck, this is probably my favorite book I have read, this year! My (not so) secret desire is to be a character actress or a lead in a Broadway musical. There’s just that one little problem of not having an ounce of talent when it comes to singing, dancing, or acting, so I imagine an audition would be a painful process for all involved. I may or may not have imagined myself winning Tony awards for my roles as Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls and as Marian the Librarian in The Music Man. But, hey, I couldn’t play Marian on stage, so at least I get to be her in real life. I love to read books about the history of Broadway, but I felt like this book was written for me. Okay, so I’m not that delusional, but producer, former critic, and instructor at New York University Jack Viertel seems to have gotten into my brain as he not only makes the case for the importance and significance of all musicals, he appreciates many of the same aspects of them that I do. Dividing the book into different segments of the show, he takes the reader through the opening number, the number by the secondary couple, and even the show stoppers, showing how they’ve evolved over time, and how different numbers may play different roles in individual shows. His book demonstrates how older musicals led the way for the modern era (Hair begat Rent which begat Hamilton, The King and I begat The Book of Mormon, and Little Shop of Horrors begat Hairspray, for examples. He and I even have the same taste. The epilogue consists of a list of cast recordings from a variety of musicals that he recommends. In most cases, Viertel maintains that the original cast recording is the best, something with which I’m in complete agreement. In one example, however, he says that it’s hard to choose, so it’s important to own two cast recordings of Guys and Dolls: the 1950 original cast starring Sam Levene and Vivian Blaine as Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide and the 1992 revival cast recording starring Faith Prince and Nathan Lane in the same roles. Guess which is the only show I own the original cast and the revival cast on Itunes? In my head, I’m telling you!
- Bucky &***** Dent by David Duchovny. (That second word of the title is actually a familiar word with one letter missing. I’m sure you can figure out the word!) My second fantasy job after being the queen of the Broadway stage is to play right field for the Boston Red Sox, in which I would have hit the game winning home run in a decisive game 7 of the World Series. (This was pre-2004, when my chances of playing for the Red Sox were about as likely as them winning a World Series in my lifetime). Since, however, my baseball abilities are about on par with my acting and singing abilities, this wasn’t happening. I do, however, love to devour books about baseball, and when I heard that Agent Mulder, er, David Duchovny, from one of my favorite shows was writing a novel about the 1978 Red Sox and Yankees, I was intrigued. I’m always a bit wary about actors who write novels, and therefore had fairly low expectations, which helped. Wannabe writer, Ted Fullilove, is a peanut vendor at Yankee Stadium in 1978, when he receives news that his estranged Red Sox fan father, is dying. The two slowly come to a reconciliation amidst the backdrop of the 1978 playoff battle between the Red Sox and Yankees. (Fans of either team, regardless if they were born yet, know what happened in that one game playoff when the Red Sox hearts were broken again.) This short book will be fun for fans of either team, but there are a lot of cliches, the characters are a bit one note and the scenes are similar to a Hallmark Channel movie (plus some extreme profanity which doesn’t bother me but may bother some readers). I was not surprised to read in multiple reviews that this was originally intended as a screenplay as the book is full of television and movie tropes. Duchovny clearly loves baseball (See his X-Files directed episode, “The Unnatural”) and that comes through (mostly) in a lovely way, here, but, unless you’re also a baseball fan, or have fond or painful memories of the 1978 season, this book probably won’t do anything for you.
Janice: In honor of the passing of the esteemed George Martin on March 8, I read his memoir All You Need is Ears. It’s an oldie from 1979, but gives a lot of dirt on the famous record producer’s star performers- Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Peter Sellers, Gerry and the Pacemakers, America, and of course, the Beatles. The amazing career of “the Fifth Beatle” spanned everything from the old 78’s to the onset of the digital era. Much like reading Orwell’s 1984 with today’s eyes, some of Martin’s statements are amusing in their naivete, such as: quadrophonic recording was too complicated to catch on, or the Beatles’ early songwriting ability did not appear saleable. On the other hand, with Sergeant Pepper he correctly predicted that highly produced recorded music would not be reproducible in an arena or auditorium, which became a major reason the Beatles, among others groups, stopped touring.
- Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood published in 1996: This book was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award and England’s Booker Prize and won the Giller Prize for Fiction.
Alias Grace is based on the case of sixteen year old Grace Marks, who, in 1843 was imprisoned for a double murder. She was released with a pardon in 1872 from the Provincial Penitentiary in Ontario to New York State to a “home provided” and may or may not have gotten married. It is not clear if Ms. Marks was actually a murderess or if the evidence was circumstantial. This is a great read for anyone who likes psychological fiction, historical fiction or an exploration of the lives of domestics in the 1840s.
Readalikes, Viewalikes: Upstairs, Downstairs, Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Story that Inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey by Margaret Powell, My Thirty Years Backstairs At the Whitehouse by Lilian Rogers Parks, Backstairs at the Whitehouse, The Alienist by Caleb Carr
- Eileen by Ottessa Mossfegh: This is one of these wonderful, dark, dysfunctional tales told by an unreliable narrator that is just not to be missed. If you enjoyed The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, get ready for another wild ride. Eileen lives with her alcoholic retired policeman father in a squalor filled house in the 1950s. The fictional working class Massachusetts town by the sea boasts a juvenile prison for boys. Eileen works there by day and returns to her crazy father at night. When a new employee named Rebecca begins working at the prison and seems to take a shine to Eileen, things begin to change. Gillian Flynn fans, take note. You won’t want to miss this novel. I am waiting for more by Ottessa Mossfegh.
- Girl Sleuth : Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her / Melanie Rehak: Recently some of my colleagues and I learned that Carolyn Keene was just a pen name and actually the Nancy Drew series, we grew up reading, was written by a number of different authors since 1930, we were all horrified and heartbroken. To make matters worse the whole idea was the brainchild of a children’s book mogul – A MAN – named Edward Stratemeyer. This book answers the Five “W’s” of Mystery…Why, Who, When, What and Where.
- In the Unlikely Event [sound recording] : a novel / Judy Blume: Good Story but not so good if you don’t like to fly! This is the first book written by JudyBlume that I’ve read.
- A Death in Belmont / by Sebastian Junger: Enjoyed reading this account of murders around the time of The Boston Strangler case. I grew up when this was unfolding. I had forgotten how different things were back in the 60’s from how they are today. Prices, attitudes and how the courts and jury pools were run…Doesn’t seem that long ago but it WAS 50 Years ago! I graduated in 1966 and my 50th high school reunion is this year…
- Message in a Bottle / by Nicholas Sparks: This book really annoyed me – honesty in a relationship is always a good thing to avoid situations like the ones brought about in this tale!
- The Book of Speculation: a Novel / by Erika Swyler: Always fun to read books that involve librarians – this librarian tries to research a journal that has connections to his family.
- Sex on the Moon / Ben Mezrich: I didn’t realize this book was based on a real events…Someone has a plan to break into NASA to steal a moon rock so he can give his girl friend the moon!
- The Weird Sisters / Eleanor Brown: Enjoyable first novel, and an unusual read – A college professor speaks almost entirely in verse from Shakespeare’s writings, he even named his three daughters after characters in his plays..The whole family loves to read, the sisters all return home to take care of their sick mother and manage to get their lives in order.
- Save Me [sound recording] : a novel / Lisa Scottoline: Good story with a timely theme involving problems with bullying in school, a misunderstanding causes a death during a fire and the Mom of one of the students has to find the answer to this mystery.
- Bel-Air Dead / Stuart Woods: Another Stone Barrington romp thru a murder case…
- Shut Up, Stop Whining, and Get a Life [sound recording] : A Kick-Butt Approach to a Better Life / Larry Winget: I have control of my life – leave me alone please!
- Ten Days in the Hills / by Jane Smiley: Too much of a Hollywood gossip storyline for me.
- Dead End Gene Pool [sound recording] : a Memoir / Wendy Burden: Not my cup of tea!
- Ghost Story / Jim Butcher: Started out with an interesting premise – someone who’d been murdered having to go back and solve his death before he could get into heaven – Lost me once back on earth and Science Fiction plot reared it’s head – Guess I’m not really a Sci-Fi reader.
- Out Stealing Horses / Per Petterson: Sixty-seven-year-old Trond Sander lives secluded in a far corner of Norway. Casting his mind back to 1948, he recalls a horse stealing prank with his best friend that turned tragic and changed his life forever. I got thru it but don’t know why!
- A Turn in the Road / Debbie Macomber: 3 Generations solve their romance problems in Debbie Macomber’s usual way gently!
- Lies that Chelsea Handler Told Me / by Chelsea’s family, friends, and other victims: I’m too old for this kind of humor if that’s what it’s called..
- Across the Universe / Beth Revis: Don’t know why I requested this one…another Sci-Fi story couldn’t get into it.
- The Pretender, The complete first season: Watched the pilot and one more episode – Kind of dated didn’t like any of the characters – predictable plots.
- The Producers: My husband kept complaining that there was too much singing – I told him that’s what musicals do! Funny movie not exactly politically correct. (editor’s note: For a little less singing, but for an equally (if not more) funny time, get the original 1967 film.)
- Chasing Shadows: Enjoyed everyone in this cast – even the bad guys. Another off beat combination of investigators put together to solve crimes/missing person investigations.
Hoping they change their minds and continue the series.
- Bridge of Spies: Started out slow but got interesting when I realized that it involved the release of a captured American U-2 pilot Gary Powers – an incident I remember happening when I was younger.