Jan: I watched A Walk in the Woods [videorecording] released last year. Starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, it is a beautifully filmed story of a trek on the Appalachian Trail by a couple of old pals who discover more about themselves than the thrill of the hike. It is superficially similar to Wild by Carol Strayed, set on the west coast’s equivalent Pacific Coast Trail. But Walk gives some of the most beautiful views and iconic sights from the AT’s southern leg…a must see for anyone who loves the outdoors.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night on DVD. It was a really good, but sad Iranian movie (filmed in the US) that had bits of humor, horror, drama, & romance. They way this movie was filmed reminded me a lot of Jim Jarmusch.
Dope on DVD. This was a really enjoyable coming of age comedy/drama that has it all… a good story, likable characters, and great music.
Streamed the new Face to Face album, Protection, off Freegal. Face to Face has been around since 1991 (with a short breakup last decade). This album reminds me a lot of their sound from the mid 90s (which is a great thing).
I just started reading Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco via OverDrive. I was in the mood for a fun horror book, and, so far, I am enjoying it.
Stephanie:Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin: Gossipy, intriguing, fictional glimpse of the lives of several New York socialites and their relationship with Truman Capote. Heartbreaking and catty, dazzling and fun. You will want to re-visit both “Answered Prayers” and Capote’s article “Cote Basque 1965” published in Esquire Magazine November of 1975. Whether you liked Truman Capote or not, you wont be able to put this book down.
The Precipice: [sound recording] : a novel by Paul Doiron: Always fun when a story takes place somewhere you are familiar with – Young female hikers get lost in the Maine Wilderness – Warden Mike Bowditch helps solve the mystery.
The Killer Next Door [sound recording] : a novel by Alex Marwood. Too bloody for me, very descriptive of murder methods.
Too Much Happiness [sound recording] : [stories] / Alice Munro (Short Stories) – Listened to a few but not my way to Happiness! So many other books so little time!
The Gifts of Imperfection [sound recording] : Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed To Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown. Listened to a couple of discs and decided I’m ok with myself all ready!
Beach Town [sound recording] : a novel by Mary Kay Andrews. Mary Kay Andrews always writes an interesting story – a bit of love, family issues, old & new problems solved – books that are difficult to put down once you are into the story.
The Stranger [sound recording] by Harlan Coben. Harlan Coben doesn’t disappoint – another page turner.
A Museum Adventure [sound recording] by Daniel Kirk. This was cute – I love stories with mice in them – I think children would enjoy these library mouse adventures!
Al Capone Shines My Shoes [sound recording] by Gennifer Choldenko. I’ve been to Alcatraz on a tour and I could visualize what it must have been like for these kids and their families.
We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Another great story from the author of The Language of Flowers. It’s a story about a young single mother, Letty, who is trying to make a better life for her children. Letty has always relied on her parents to raise her children while she worked 3 jobs but now her parents have returned to Mexico.So she must make a life for her family as she deals with all of life’s trials and tribulations . It’s a story very relevant to today’s society as she weaves a tale of second-generation Americans and undocumented immigrants. A very engaging story with well developed characters.
The Red Coat : a Novel of Boston by Dolley Carlson. Set in Boston in the 1940s, an Irish domestic, Norah Kelly, asks her wealthy employer for an elegant red coat that has been earmarked for a charity donation. Norah brings the coat home to her daughter and so begins the story of two families that intertwine over the decades. It’s a fascinating story with great character development but also amazing historical insight. There are lots of Boston landmarks that are presented in old photos along the side of the pages. It really came alive for me as my mother was an Irish domestic who worked on Beacon Hill when she first came to the states. Truly a book difficult to put down and sad to see it end..
The Lake House [sound recording] : a Novel by Kate Morton. A mysterious tale of dark family secrets set in a lakeside estate in Cornwall, England. Once again this is a book that goes back and forth from a present day mystery to one that took place over 70 years ago.
This is a gripping mystery that will keep you thinking about it long after you’ve finished the book.
Mirror Lake: [a novel] by Thomas Christopher Greene (audiobook download from Hoopla). Nathan Carter, a young man in his 30s moves from Boston to rural Vermont after the death of his father. He becomes a rural mail-person and one of the stops on his route is Wallace Fisk, a 79 year old curmudgeon, who takes down his mailbox so Nathan wouldn’t be able to deliver the mail.
Nathan’s Jeep goes off the road in a blinding snowstorm and it is Wallace who comes to his rescue and nurses him back to health. And so begins an unlikely friendship. The novel unfolds between each man’s past and present and some dark secrets are revealed. A very enjoyable story with a good narrator.
Lisa: I’m currently reading a variety of romance novels for light reading. For more substantive reading I like to read self-improvement books. Right now I’m focusing on self-improvement for my librarian self. I just finished a book called Crash Course in Library Services to Preschool Children.
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. Monsieur Perdu owns a bookstore pharmacy on a houseboat in the Seine, where he prescribes the perfect book for each of his customers. Haunted by memories of his one true love, a woman who was involved with him while married, and entangled with a young, brash writer, Monsieur Perdu drops anchor on the Seine and encounters several quirky characters and learns something about life. The writing is so lyrical, and I love the idea of the floating bookstore. And, though, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, I have to admit I was drawn to reading this purely because of the cover.
Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale. Illustrated by Nathan Hale. This fun graphic novel, written for teens but to be enjoyed by everyone, re-imagines Rapunzel in the Wild West with special guest star, Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk). Rapunzel is no damsel in distress as she manages to take care of herself and get out of her tower. The illustrations are just striking, and the prose is both compelling and humorous.
Laura (Movie). I recently re-visited this film noir, starring Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price, and Judith Anderson. Detective Mark McPherson falls in love with the compelling, Laura Hunt, simply by looking at her portrait. Unfortunately, he happens to be trying to solve her murder. The melodramatic movie is a little dated and is unintentionally funny in parts, but it’s still a fun ride, and Clifton Webb is sufficiently creepy as one of Laura’s multiple unsuitable love interests.
Here is our annual Point/Counter Point about the Oscar Fashions (as well as some ways the library can let you relive or make fun of the Academy Awards)
The good. The bad. All boring.
I saw a posting on Facebook the other day that stated: better to arrive late than to arrive ugly. I laughed because this has always been my motto.
And it reminded me of this year’s Oscar fashion. Not that the stars were ugly by any means but there did not seem to be much fussing—with gowns, hair, makeup. I like more glamour, I guess.
I dress better to walk my dog, than costume designer Jenny Beaven when she clomped up the aisle to claim her Oscar. Its hard to believe that back in 1986, she won an Oscar for best costume design for Room with a View. So she must know a thing or two about fashion and period frocks. (Place a hold on Mad Max, Fury Road).
The dress I liked the least was worn by Heidi Klum or should I say that it wore her.. The color was bad enough but add to it a single puffy sleeve and an unattractive cut-out. I would have thought it would be hard to make Ms Klum look bad, but this gown and plain messy pony tail, sure did the trick. Kiss, kiss, bye, bye ugly Marchase gown. (Request Heidi Klum’s Body of Knowledge)
I’m afraid I didn’t see The Danish Girl and had no idea who Alicia Vikander was. Her yellow dress was very understated as was her hair and lack of jewelry. But the worst part was the puffy hem that couldn’t make up its mind whether to be long or short. (Place a hold on The Danish Girl)
Olivia Wilde need to lose that collar around her neck or perhaps it was holding her up. (Stream The Longest Week starring Olivia Wilde via the library’s subscription to Hoopla.)
The only gentleman to stand out was Jared Leto and not in a good way. That Gucci tux with the flower bow tie and red piping was certainly unusual. (Request Jared Leto’s movie Dallas Buyers Club)
This year’s fashions were too boring for me. Please bring back more Hollywood glamour. Even if everyone is late to walk the red carpet.
I agree with Marialice that the outfits were a bit on the dull side, this year. (Except for the crew of Mad Max: Fury Road. I love that they went the funky but the casual route). However, I managed to find some looks that I adored and others that I really disliked.
Cate Blanchett: Worst Dressed. Marialice and I completely disagree on this one! If the dress didn’t have a bunch of little flowers attached to it, I actually would have liked it. (Download the Carol inspired novel, The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith from the library’s subscription to Overdrive.)
Kerry Washington: A qualified worst dressed. I like the hair and jewelry. The dress would not be too bad, if the top was made out of a different material. (It looks like it was made out of construction paper) (Request Kerry Washington’s movie Django Unchained.)
Lady Gaga: It works for her. I would have hated this on anyone else (and I certainly couldn’t pull it off) but it kind of works on her. (Place a hold on the documentary, The Hunting Ground featuring Lady Gaga’s song, “Til it Happens to You.”)
Olivia Munn: Best dressed. Simple and elegant. (Request Suck It, Wonder Woman! : The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek by Olivia Munn)
Whoopi Goldberg: Best dressed. I think she looks great! Not a huge fan of the jewelry, but this dress is perfect for her. (Download the e-book It It Just Me? Or is It Nuts out There by Whoopi Goldberg via Overdrive.)
Heidi Klum: Worst dressed. Maybe it’s me. She is a host of Project Runway, so she obviously knows about these things better than I do, but not my thing! (Request eight seasons of Project Runway)
Taxpayer Assistance Center
JFK Federal Building; 15 New Sudbury Street; Boston, MA 02203
Provides some federal tax help. May refer inquiries to local volunteer tax services.
Times Available: Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.
Bentley University Students
Morrison Hall, Room 101; Waltham, MA 02452
Tax Help for those who are eligible for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA)
Times Available: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm; Saturdays, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm; February 15 – April 10; There will be no tax assistance on March 8 and 15.
Charles River Public Internet Center
154 Moody Street; Waltham, MA 02453 http://www.crpic.org/
Tax Help for those who are eligible for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). Please call to make an appointment.
Times Available: Thursdays, 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm; Fridays, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Saturdays, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm.
Looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day Gift? Check out what we’re reading this month.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters: This well-crafted novel takes place in Post WWI London. It is 1922 and the once wealthy “spinster” Frances and her mother Mrs. Wray are mourning the death of the two young men of the family in the Great War, World War I. Mr. Wray has died and, unfortunately, has left considerable debts. Frances and her mother are obliged to take in lodgers—Lilian and Leonard Barber of the “clerk class”. Life has been rather dull and drab for Frances; this is about to change with the lively couple who move in. There is some passionate romance afoot. Please be aware, it is of the same sex variety, so if that is not to your taste, please do not read this book. Due to the rather repressive timbre of the times, there is some tragedy, even murder to be dealt with. Your heart will be in your throat as you struggle with Frances and Lilian.
This is my second novel by Sarah Waters and, I must say, she creates a powerful sense of time and place. One feels as if taken by this writer to 1920’s London, with the old house in disrepair, the nuances and niceties, the cups of tea, down to the smallest detail. The writing moves along and you are drawn in and unable to put this amazing novel down.
This novel was shortlisted for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction and nominated for the Goodreads Award for Best Historical Fiction.
I give it five out of five teacups up!
If you enjoy this book, I recommend the following as read-alikes: Atonement by Ian McEwan This riveting novel of World War II has murder, passion, tragedy and suspense and, a movie tie in. It was shortlisted for the 2001 Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. It also won the Whitbread Award. Please read my next review for another excellent read-alike.
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell: Even the title of this book about the Prohibition Era in New York City grabbed me. I am old enough to remember the manual typewriter. In this novel that I would classify as one of psychological suspense, we meet Rose Baker, a police typist who likes her job She transcribes the confessions of murderers and other members of the criminal element. Rose lives in a boarding house with a roommate who is separated from her by a sheet in the middle of the room. Helen often steals Rose’s things and has a knack for getting on her nerves.
Enter Odalie, the other typist in the precinct. There are more and more cases coming in due to the
Volstead Act and Odalie is hired on the spot. She is glamorous, mysteries and filled with life. Rose
becomes obsessed and is drawn in to a lifestyle of speakeasies and wealth that she could never have
come up with in her wildest dreams. Rindell’s debut novel is in some sense an homage to The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald but it also stands on its own two feet. I was drawn up in this novel and was filled with suspense and a dark sense of foreboding as I read through to the harrowing conclusion.
This book is being optioned for film and I can see why. If you are a fan of The Great Gatsby, or of The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, you will love this novel. A great read for people who like psychological fiction and who like a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
I give it five out of five speakeasies up.
Pat A.: I am reading a novel that could be classified as a Romantic Comedy called The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson. And that says it all.
Mary V.: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells is a suspense filled novel that I had trouble putting down. It concerns love, madness, psychological abuse and teenaged angst. There is a murder, but I would not call this a murder mystery even though Waltham has classified it as a mystery. The main character is a woman who is a wife and mother as well as a horsewoman and landscape gardener.
One of my favorite movies, John Dies at the End, was a book before it was a movie, and I enjoyed listening to the audiobook via OverDrive during my long drive to and from Vermont last weekend.
I’m also still loving the toy Guitar album In This Mess which I downloaded from Freegal.
Watchers – Dean Koontz: One of my favorite books, a book I revisit every few years – Horror, Mystery, Scifi-ish, Love Story, with a little humor thrown in for good measure.
Early Warning [sound recording] : a novel / Jane Smiley: Too many characters with too much family history and turmoil over too many years for me.
After 7 discs I skipped to the last disc and everything was resolved – I didn’t need to know all the details – but others may enjoy the trip thru this family’s life.
I’ll be sad when Sue Grafton get to the letter Z I’ve enjoyed this mystery series very much S is for Silence [sound recording] / Sue Grafton: Kinsey helps a daughter solve the disappearance of her mother 34 years later T is for Trespass [sound recording] / Sue Grafton: Private investigator Kinsey Millhone searches for sociopath Solana Rojas, an identity she stole that gives her access to private caregiving jobs.
The Spymistress [sound recording] / by Jennifer Chiaverini: Good historical fiction story about the Civil War – conflict within families in the south in their views of the war.
Orphan Black. Season one [videorecording]: At first I was a little uncertain as to whether I’d like this one – but I got into it from the first scene. The actress playing the lead role is great. She plays multiple characters and each one is so different.
Above Suspicion. Set 1 [videorecording]: A bit gory, don’t watch when eating dinner – but good characters and good story.
House of Cards. The complete second season: I don’t think anyone who gets in Frank’s way is safe…
I am currently listening to After You by JoJo Moyes the sequel to her best seller Me Before You. Don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t read the first book. I am enjoying this book.
We are currently listening to Cold Betrayal by J. A. Jance. A book in her series where the main character is Allie Reynolds. Allie Reynolds is not one of our favorite characters but the story is okay.
Read The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah. Story about 2 sisters during of World War II. Thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Watched Downton Abbey Season 6. Loved this series. Sorry this is the end.
Currently streaming Mozart in the Jungle on Amazon. This is a comedy/drama about a fictitious N.Y. Symphony orchestra on the threshold of its opening season with a new conductor, Rodrigo. Series is based on a book by the same name. We are enjoying the dynamics of this show.
The Girl Who Slept with God by Val Brelinski. The story centers around an an evangelical Christian family in 1970’s rural Idaho. Fourteen-year-old Jory Quanbeck along with her pregnant older sister, Grace, have been banished by their parents to an isolated house on the outskirts of town. Grace is a devout Christian who believes her condition to be a gift from God. The girls have to fend for themselves with the help of their neighbor,the elderly Hilda Kleinfelter and Grip, the Ice Cream Truck driver, who becomes an unlikely friend and support to both girls. It is a compelling and interesting story. I thoroughly enjoyed it and a thank you to Nancy D for the recommendation!
Listening to Sudden Death by David Rosenfelt (streaming from hoopla) another Andy Carpenter story. Andy is on another case and once again up to the occassion, not only employing all of his skills but his wonderful sense of humor and take on life. Perfect story to make my time on treadmill go by quickly and with some laughs!
Watched The Martian, Directed by Ridley Scott.
An entertaining movie that has a variety of aspects, suspense, action, science and a good dose of humor with a captivating ending.
Reading Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters.
Being a lover of books it was easy for me to pick up this book and become engrossed in the story of Roberta, who works in The Old and New Book Store in England. Roberta is interested in the bits and pieces of letters she finds in the old books as she prepares to put them on the shelf.
Her father donates some of her Grandmother’s books to the shop and brings them in an old suitcase that once belonged to a Mrs. D Sinclair. Roberta is intrigued by the suitcase and wonders about the identity of the owner. The story switches back and forth from Roberta’s investigattions in the present to her Grandmother’s life during WW II.
Hannah:Stalin’s Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan.
This book is a comprehensive biography of Svetlana Alliluyeva, Joseph Stalin’s only daughter, from her childhood as “little princess of the Kremlin” to her defection to the United States and her death as a pauper in rural Wisconsin. Sullivan uses an array of sources to bring to life the complex and conflicted life lived by Svetlana. Full of personal tragedy and a never-ending search for an identity of her own, Svetlana spent her adult life after her defection wandering the globe from India to the United States to England and even back to the USSR. Svetlana brings a unique point of view of the politics and everyday life of the USSR. Her later views on Russia after the collapse and her judgments on the new leaders, Yelstin and Putin make this work not only about the Cold War era but an enlightening spotlight on Russia in the current age.
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez: This was actually a re-read for me, having first read this about 15 years ago. It is a fictionalized tale of the Maribel sisters who joined the rebellion against the Dominican Republic dictator, Rafael Trujillo. Told in a series of flashbacks starting with sister, Dede, this beautiful, suspenseful novel is hard to put down.
The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas: I was lucky to get an advanced copy of this young adult novel, set to be released in April. This is a very creepy book which will, pardon the cliche, keep you on the edge of your seat. A teenage girl, Tessa, who’s been living in Florida with her grandmother briefly returns to her childhood home in Pennsylvania. Many years ago, Tessa and her best friend, Callie, were witnesses at a murder trial and identified the defendant. After she jogs her memory and some new evidence comes to light, Tessa starts to wonder if she and Callie may have caused an innocent man to go to prison. Place your hold on this item today and be one of the first to check it out when it’s released.
The X-Files (Television Show): When this show was first on the air, I was a casual fan, at best, occasionally catching episodes with friends and roommates who were hard core fans. The main reason I even tuned in was because I thought David Duchovny was cute (who didn’t in the 1990’s?). With the new edition currently airing on television, though, I decided to do a binge watch, and do I adore it! FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, investigate out of the ordinary events, uncover a government conspiracy, and develop an intense, emotional attachment. As the heads in the cloud Agent Mulder and practical minded Agent Scully, Duchovny and Gillian Anderson have a great chemistry reminiscent of Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. (I’m not normally a fan of movie remakes, but if the two of them were to star in a remake of Adam’s Rib, I would check it out.) Standalone episodes about so-called monsters of the week range between being creepy and hilarious and are usually as fun as 1950’s monster movies. Some government conspiracy episodes are intriguing, although the amount of red herrings can get a little tedious. And as a woman, I just have to say that Agent Scully is a great female lead character. She’s intelligent, holds her own against her male counterpart, and is a completely realized person.
Feeling stressed? Who isn’t these days? Mark your calendar for Sunday, March 6th from 2-4PM.
Come hear an introduction to the practice of meditation and mindfulness, including discussion and experiential exercises. Tools for the development of this skill set will be shared. Links between mindfulness practice and well-being will be presented.
Mindfulness fills a great need for parents and children to find physical, mental and emotional calm in these busy, often overwhelming times. Mindfulness promotes non-judgmental awareness of the present moment, and fosters calm, better concentration, and more openness. Youth and adults learn how to be kinder to themselves and others, more confident and less judgmental.
This Waltham Public Library Event will be taking place in our Lecture Hall on the Ground Floor of the Library. Facilitated by Rev. Matt Carriker, Protestant Chaplain at Brandeis University and Spiritual Direcotr at Agape Spiritual Community in Waltham. Contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-736-3573 for more information.
This event is free and open to the public.
For questions about the library, directions, hours, etc. please call 781-314-3425.
Need something to tide you over during the holiday break? Need a break from the family? Want to ask Santa for some new books, movies, and music for Christmas? Have you made a New Year’s resolution to read more books? Here is what we’ve been reading, listening to, and watching:
“I read Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova: This is the story of a family from South Boston whose father, a Boston policeman, is diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. I fell in love with the characters in the book. They could be your next door neighbors. Although the subject is a difficult one, it helps the reader to understand what a family goes through when there is a Huntington Disease diagnosis. I really liked this book. It is as good as Lisa Genova’s Still Alice and there is talk it is going to be made into a movie!”
“I listened to The Closers by Michael Connelly. Harry Bosch comes back from retirement to join the elite Open/Unsolved case unit. His mission is to solve murders whose investigations were flawed. I am a huge Michael Connelly fan. I wasn’t disappointed with this book.”
Listened to Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo. This is the second book in the Amish Crime Series with police Kate Burkholder which takes place in the small town, Painters Mill, Ohio. This is the story of one family, a horrific murder and the entire town under suspicion. I found the details in this book very grizzly.”
“I watched the following DVDs:
The Loft: a tense psychological thriller. It is a remake of a 2008 Belgium movie which was a huge hit. This version not so much a hit, but okay.
Pitch Perfect 2: I enjoyed the first one more than this although I am a fan of A Capella so found it entertaining.
The Village: a BBC series follows residents of one English village across the 20th century and their turbulent lives. Really enjoying this series.
“Abide With Me by Elizabeth Strout: Elizabeth Strout takes us to a fictional town in New England in the 1950s. Tyler Caskey is the Congregationalist minister to a congregation in West Annett, Maine. Tyler’s wife has died of cancer, his youngest daughter is misbehaving in school, and there are misunderstandings and dark undercurrents spreading all over town. Caskey is not able to minister to his flock when he himself is suffering so deeply. Secrets and problems of the various townspeople are revealed in this brooding, moody novel.
The writing is beautiful, the feel of rural Maine is alive in every page, the characters feel so real that they almost jump off of the page.
I give this novel four church steeples up and, if you like this book, I recommend:
Jan:The Right-Size Flower Garden by Kerry Ann Mendez.
“Do you wish you could bypass winter and jump right into spring, but dread all the work coming your way in your gardens?
This book will be your inspiration! Prune, dig out, move to a better location, give away or compost. Plant something better and easier to take care of instead. Remember the author’s (and your) mantra: Do not feel guilty-these are only flowers, not children or pets! Your yard-and your back-will thank you!”
Die Trying [sound recording] / Lee Child. “I’m a fan of Jack Reacher books and this one didn’t disappoint – kept me on the edge of my ear buds! One exciting situation after another. Can be a little to bloody and violent at times”
Dreaming Spies [sound recording] / Laurie R. King. “I’ve read a few of the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series and this one wasn’t as good as the others at first, but I got into it eventually.”
True Story [sound recording] / written and read by Michael Finkel. Didn’t like -May try again. I was able to get into the story on the second try – based on the real case of Christian Longo, accused murderer of his wife and three children, and Michael Finkel, the disgraced journalist whose identity Longo briefly assumed”
H is for Hawk [sound recording] / Helen Macdonald. “True Story. Couldn’t get into this one- May try again.”
One Soldier’s Story [sound recording] : [a memoir] / Bob Dole. “Amazing story – didn’t realize how badly Bob Dole was injured and so young – he was injured towards the end of the war and went through a lot in his life to achieve what he did.”
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. “This has been on several media best of 2015 lists and so I was intrigued. The book follows Lotto and Mathilde, who meet in college and marry after a quick courtship. Time passes quickly as the two move from newlyweds to Lotto’s career as a playwright. Three years can pass in one page with the reader barely realizing it. The book is hauntingly written and I’m mainly enjoying it so far. The tone reminds me of 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino (which took place over a much shorter period of time) and San Remo Drive by Leslie Epstein.”
Star Wars vs. Star Trek by Matt Forbeck. “As a fan of both franchises, I don’t entirely understand the Star Wars vs. Star Trek debate. Aside from the fact they both have star in the title and have rabid fan bases, they have nothing in common and neither is better than the other. Like far reaching sagas about family and the age old battle of good vs. evil? That’s Star Wars. Want to see humans exploring new worlds as a metaphor for learning to accept that we aren’t really very different? Well, there’s Star Trek. None the less, the debates continue, and while many are fans of both, there are some who will fight for the honor of their favorite franchise and I have to admit that this scene from the most recent episode of The Big Bang Theory is pretty funny. This book is pretty quiet, pitting similar characters, objects, and more from one franchise against their counterparts in the other. In some cases, the match up is pretty odd, such as the one featuring Rebel Alliance Leader Mon Mothma, a character with minimal screen time in Return of the Jedi against Maquis Leader Thomas Riker (Commander Riker’s “twin” who was created after a transporter accident), but in other cases, it’s fun reading about Han Solo vs. Captain Kirk as the Scoundrel. (Han Solo wins that, according to the book.)”
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. “Noah and Jude are twins who were once very close and but have drifted apart by the time they turn 16. Noah narrates the events from three years ago which led up to their estrangement. As he struggles with some unsettling news about their mother, he also comes to turns with his sexuality. Jude narrates the events that occurred three years later, including her coming to terms with her mother’s death. The two are budding artists and slowly learn more about each other and their families. This beautiful book is a great look at family dynamics, and a wonderful character study.”
“I also am streaming the album John Williams Conducts Music from Star Wars, courtesy of the library’s subscription to Hoopla. It’s been great fun listening to the Boston Pops play the classic Star Wars music such as the “Main Title”, “Princess Leia’s Theme”, and “The Imperial March” gearing up to view the latest movie. In addition, the album also contains the two themes from E.T., the themes from Star Trek, and Holst’s “The Planets”.
Beautiful Hands Written by Bret Baumgarten; Illustrated by Kathryn Otoshi. “‘What will your beautiful hands do today?’ is the question that lead to this making of this book. Both the writing and the illustration are truly BEAUTIFUL. One of my favorite story time reads to date.”
Counting Lions Written by Katie Cotton; Illustrated by Stephen Walton. “The lion caught my attention and the illustrations stole the show. Breathtaking drawings of endangered animals, what better way to learn how to count?”
Wangari’s Trees of Peace Written and Illustrated by Jeanette Winter. “What an amazing ode to Wangari Maathai. An inspiring story that should be read to and heard by us all.”
In the event that you have been pulling a Rip Van Winkle and have been asleep for the last 20 years, you are very aware that last night marked the opening of the latest Star Wars film, the first in ten years, and the first since 1983’s Return of the Jedi featuring Luke Skywalker (we hope), Han Solo, and Princess Leia. As you gear up to watch the latest movie once, twice, twenty times in the theater, the library has plenty to offer you, whether you believe the movies should be watched in numerical order (starting with Episode I: The Phantom Menace) or in the order they were released (starting with Star Wars, later to be called Episode IV: A New Hope). Enjoy and may the force be with you!
(Before we continue, I’m just going to share the opinion that the only way to watch the movies is in the order they were released, the first movie will always be called just Star Wars, and it’s okay to pretend the prequels don’t exist).
Check out our Star Wars displays in the children’s and adult reference areas featuring books, CDs of the soundtrack, and coloring pages. And yes, the coloring pages are available in both the adult and children’s sections.
Admire not one but two different posters of Yoda encouraging you to read, in our teen area.
Not a fan of the special editions? Request these versions of the classical trilogy DVDs and choose the option to view the original theatrical releases.
Couldn’t get enough of the prequel era? Watch the movie and all seasons of The Clone Wars.
Will the Emperor accept a collect call from Darth Vader? What will happen when Gary the Stormtrooper participates in “take your daughter to work day?” Find out the answers to that and more with Robot Chicken: Star Wars.
Download and keep some Star Wars related music with the library’s subscription to Freegal. One such album is the wonderfully weird Baby Wars, featuring lullaby versions of all of the famous themes, including the Imperial March.
The Books Episode I: Fiction
Disney may have deemed that most of the Expanded Universe is no longer canon, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t enjoy one of the countless Star Wars novels published over the last 38 years. If you’re a big fan, you’re probably already reading fan fiction, none of which is canon, so why not relax and continue to enjoy?
Peruse our adult Science Fiction section, children’s room, and teen area for our collection of Star Wars novels. My favorites are The Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyers, set immediately after the events of Return of the Jedi; Tatooine’s Ghost by Troy Denning, dealing with Princess Leia accepting her legacy as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader’s daughter; and (believe it or not), the novelization of The Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover, which details the fall and struggles of Anakin Skywalker in a way that is captured so much better here than it was in the movie.
Peruse our graphic novels sections in the teen, adult, and children’s areas for Star Wars related graphic novels. Get some serious tales with the Star Wars Omnibus series. Ever wondered how Vader would handle raising two rambunctious twins on the Death Star? Find out with Darth Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princess.
Want more e-books and audiobooks? Download Star Wars related e-books and audiobooks for your tablet, computer, or e-reader from the Minuteman Library Network and library’s subscription to Overdrive, including Aftermath by Chuck Wendig, the run up novel to The Force Awakens.
Nearly everyone associated with Star Wars has either written a memoir or has a (not always authorized) biography written of him or her. My favorite is Wishful Drinking, based on Carrie Fisher’s one woman show. My advice is to listen to it on audio to get the full effect, but not while you’re driving as it could get dangerous to laugh that hard while operating a vehicle.
Todd:Peter & Max: A Fables Novel: “If you are fan of the graphic novel Fables, you will like this. It drags on a bit, but it is a good story.” Todd also downloaded the album Calypso Kitch from the library’s subscription to Freegal. He also viewed the “mediocre horror movie” The Cabining from the library’s subscription to Hoopla.
“Catch The Jew by Tuvia Tenenbom, like its title, is funny and alarming at the same time. Picture Michael Moore traveling through Israel and its environs and you will have a foretaste of what is to come. Tenenbom was raised in an Ultra-Orthodox community in Israel. He has since moved to Brooklyn where he runs the Jewish Theatre of New York. Tuvia speaks fluent German, Arabic, Hebrew and American. He poses as Tobi the German when interviewing people who have an Anti-Zionist bias.
This book will change your perspective on the complex situation of Israel vis a vis the Ultra-Orthodox groups, the Palestinians, the Israeli government, the Israeli army, the Right wing, the left wing, the Bedouins and the many European NGOs who have a presence in the country. Whether you agree with Mr. Tenenbom or not, you will laugh even as you cry. This book was a number one best seller in Israel and in Germany as well. Recommended for anyone interested in this subject who likes a little humor with their reporting.
I give this book five Dead Sea Scrolls up!”
“Pulitzer Prize winning reporter David Finkel follows the Second Battalion in The Good Soldiers, Sixteenth Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army as they are called in to Iraq as part of President Bush’s Surge in 2007. Most of the soldiers in this regiment are very young men, with an average age of nineteen. We see the horror and the boredom, the victories and the losses that the battalion must struggle with. The soldiers and their Iraqui translator in this very well written book come across as extremely human and vulnerable.
There is some profanity in this book and some violence. However, it presents a relatively objective reporting of one Regiment’s experience both in Iraq and afterwards. Recommended for anyone who is interested in reading about wartime experience written by a journalist without a particular political agenda.
I give this book four army helmets up!”
“Nathaniel Fick writes a first person account of his very rigorous and grueling training to be a Marine Officer in One Bullet Away: The Making Of a Marine Officer. (This reviewer can’t even do a cartwheel and is awed by the many amazing feats that Fick is able to perform. I had no idea how difficult Marine Officer training could be!) Fick graduated from Dartmouth University in 1999 and decided to embark on this challenging journey. He tells you about his experiences in Iraq and in Afghanistan. This book is recommended to anyone who wonders about what it takes to be a capable leader in wartime. This book also is recommended to anyone who is interested in the amount of teamwork that is required for a military unit to succeed.
This book has some profanity and violence.
I give this book four marine corp insignias up!”
All Who Go Do Not Return by Shulem Deen: “Shulem Deen was raised in a very religious family and chooses to live his adult life in a very traditional Hassidic community. This first person account of his experience in the Skverer community in Rockland County, New York, opens a window to a world that very few have experienced. The reader follows Shulem’s Yeshiva education, arranged marriage, and his gradual disaffection from the community.
This book is recommended to readers of memoir, those interested in learning about cultures and beliefs different from their own, and people interested in questions of faith in the modern world.
I give this book five yarmulkes up!”
Finally found a DVD series we liked! Last Tango in Halifax: “Childhood sweethearts reunite when they are in their 70’s – lots of family baggage accumulated over the years makes for an interesting tale…currently watching Season 3.”
Childrens Book: Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney: “Lovely childrens book – about making the world prettier – sowing Lupine seeds – by mistake at first then by plan.”
The Keepsake [sound recording] / Tess Gerritsen: “I really enjoy the TV Series Rizzoli and Isles so thought I’d try one of the books it’s based on – and I did enjoy it – This case had them searching through a dusty museum basement in Boston.”
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight [sound recording] : an African Childhood / by Alexandra Fuller: “Couldn’t get into this – thought I’d enjoy it like I did the Alexander McCall Smith’s Series No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency“
Dead Wake: the Last Crossing of the Lusitania [sound recording] / Erik Larson: “Story of the sinking of the Lusitania – Found out a few things I didn’t know about what was going on involving the intelligence agencies in different countries.”
The Girl on the Train [sound recording] / Paula Hawkins: “Hard to get into at first, kept confusing the characters. Didn’t like it as much as others did. It kind of reminded me of the movie/story Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window“
The Nightingale [sound recording] / Kristin Hannah: “Good Story – about two sisters during WWII – who cope with the war in different ways.”
Inside the O’Briens [sound recording] / Lisa Genova: “I love Lisa Genova’s books – she writes about situations and medical conditions that many encounter in life. Brings you right inside what people go through.”
Drinking [sound recording] : a love story / Caroline Knapp: “A true story about the authors trip through life and love and addiction.”
A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety [sound recording] / Jimmy Carter: “Some may think Jimmy Carter may not have been the greatest president but he surely is a wonderful person.”
Dexter is Dead [sound recording] / Jeff Lindsay: “Is Dexter really dead? I wonder, when I got to the end of this book – I thought maybe there was a disc missing. Over the years I’ve enjoyed Dexter’s stories though sometimes they were a little too graphic and bloody for me.”
Lady Chatterley’s Lover [sound recording] / by D.H. Lawrence: “I remember my Mother “hiding” this book in her drawer when I was growing up and being a good daughter I never peeked – When I checked this in recently, I thought I’d see what she was hiding from little eyes! Based on today’s standards it was a little spicy but a bit boring.”
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume: “Judy Blume, my childhood hero, is the only woman who could actually get me to read about plane crashes, three of them, to be exact. Based on true events in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the 1950’s, this novel details how a community is affected by three planes crashing into the town over the period of a few months. Told in third person point of view, but from the minds of various community members, the book mainly features the story of 15 year old Miri Ammerman, and how her life changes in many ways during that fateful year. I enjoyed this book very much, mainly because it had a very similar vibe to Blume’s Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, one of my favorite novels.”
The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar: “In an effort to save their marriage after the death of their son, Frank and Ellie Benton, move to India for Frank’s job, where Frank becomes attached to the young son of their cook and housekeeper. This novel is thoughtful, melancholy, and beautifully written, until the end, when the tone completely shifts and it turns into an over the top thriller.”
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson: “Hayley has been on the road for many years with her veteran father, who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He decides that it’s time for them to be settled and so he moves them to his hometown, where Hayley attends public high school. She is quick to mistrust the adults in her life, and is skeptical about potential friends, as well. Meanwhile, she must continue to play the adult in her house, as her father’s problems with PTSD continue to spiral out of control.”
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: “I agree with Jeanette that there is a bit of a Rear Window vibe in this book, so I would suggest this book for any suspense fans who like a bit of a twist. Three first person narrators, a couple not so reliable, relate the tale of Rachel, a British commuter obsessed with a couple she sees every morning from the train window. When the woman she dubs “Jess” disappears, Rachel finds that she’s perhaps closer to the situation than she initially realized. Told from the point of view of Rachel, her ex-husband’s new wife (Anna), and the missing woman in the months leading up to her disappearance, The Girl on the Train is a thriller about a world not as it seems told through the mind of a raging alcoholic. For those of you who were less than thrilled with Gone Girl, don’t be deterred by the comparisons. I was not a fan of Gone Girl and I enjoyed this one.”
Perfect/ Rachel Joyce: “England is the backdrop for this story that is set in two different time zones; the spring and summer of 1972 and the present, with the some of the characters featuring in both zones. As the story unfolds, it eventually becomes obvious that there will be some merging of the two strands.
There are many layers to “Perfect” and also a range of interesting characters. Byron Hemmings and James Lowe are boys in 1972, interested in the world around them and full of ideas and plans. They are particularly interested in the thought that two seconds will be taken away from time during the year and it is Byron’s amazement at seeing the second hand of his watch moving backwards that leads to an event which will ultimately change his life and the lives of those around him. A very intriguing read.”
The Ghost Fields / Elly Griffiths: “Another great Ruth Galloway mystery, I am really hooked on these books. Ruth is such a believable, down to earth character.
In this installment, a bulldozer makes a grizzly discovery of a WWII airplane with the pilot still instill inside. Galloway is called in and discovers the body is the son of the family living in a nearby manor and he hadn’t been piloting that particular plane. How did he get there and why? Evidence points this way and that, leaving the reader in suspense about murderer and motive.”
White Dresses : a Memoir of Love and Secrets, Mothers and Daughters / Mary Pflum Peterson: “This is a compelling story of several generations of women all connected by the white dresses from all the significant life events they experienced. Mary Pflum Petersen tells her mother’s story and her own through the white dresses marking major events in their lives. Mary couldn’t rescue her mother from eventual hoarding, however she managed to pull the meaningful white dresses out of the horrific wreckage. Mary’s Mom always told her that White dresses were symbolic of starting over…a clean slate.This was an captivating story and I had a hard time putting it down. This book was engaging to the end; ultimately, it is a beautiful testament to the love and devotion of mother and daughter.”
Off the Black [videorecording]: “A very good indie debut by first time director James Ponsoldt, just a well told story and some very fine performances. Nolte, in particular, totally embodies his characters ailments and addictions. He is a
grumpy high school umpire and catches one of three high school boys who are in the act of vandalizing his house. From there a very unlikely friendship develops.”
After You / Jojo Moyes: the long awaited sequel to Me Before You and I have just started it. So here’s hoping I won’t be disappointed.
First Degree / David Rosenfelt.(hoopla streaming): “This is my first David Rosenfelt book and I am captured. Andy Carpenter is a New Jersey defense attorney who owing to an inherited windfall from his Dad no longer needs cases to survive for a living. However this is an inviting case that involves a dubious character who comes into his office confessing to the grisly murder of corrupt police officer Alex Dorsey. So far it is smooth and entertaining and I find myself laughing out loud. And better still it is on hoopla which means it is always available for streaming!”