Staff Reads — September 16, 2016



  • I’m currently streaming the new Descendants’ album: Hypercaffium Spazzinate
  • Downloaded a few songs off the new toyGuitar album, Move Like a Ghost, from Freegal.
  • Reading the new Joe Hill book, The Fireman. It’s not my favorite Joe Hill book, but I am really enjoying it. Like his other books, it’s a horror book with many elements of fantasy. Of all his books, this one has some of the scariest and most intense scenes.
  • I’ve watched too many movies recently: Krampus – A a great horror film. It’s rare that I enjoy a new horror film almost as much as the films from the 80s. ; Keanu – This was a great fun, dumb (but smartly made) comedy; Triple 9 – Not a bad action film, but the story line has a lot of holes; The Gallows – A decent horror film; Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Not the type of movie I normally watch, but it was sort of sweet and sad.


Pat A:


  • Too Close to Home by Susan Lewis. Jenna and Jack Moore have moved their family to Wales for a fresh start. They run a publishing company together and have managed to blend their business and marriage into a good working partnership. But a year into the move Jenna suspects things are not what they seem. This story has many sub plots involving bullying (cyber, physically, and mentally), victims, infidelity, fraud, abuse, and suicide. Jenna discovers that all families have issues to deal with, including her own. It has twists and turns that keep you engaged.
  • Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen. Morris Siegel is an almost 90-year old dress pattern-maker for a famous designer and he is ready to retire and wants to go out on top. His last design is the perfect little black dress that makes it onto the cover of a popular women’s magazine and it becomes THE dress of the season. It really is a delightful story, as the narrative progresses, Morris’s dress brings happiness and good luck to nine different, unrelated women who wear it.This was a really fun read with a great cast of characters.
  • I’m currently reading The Book that Matters Most by Ann Hood. Ava is dealing with the loss of her 25 year marriage, she is completely blind-sided, having thought their marriage was stable and secure. Her grown children are currently living abroad. Ava is trying to find some meaning in her life since her husband has moved onto another woman. Her friend runs a book group and a spot has opened up and Ava joins. Each year the book group has a theme and this year it’s” the book that matters most” to them in their life. Most of the members have picked classics but Ava remembers a book from her childhood that helped her cope with her young sister’s death and her mother’s suicide. As each member of the book group talks about how their book had an impact on their life, it makes you think about what book you might choose as the book that matters most in your life??

Mary V.

  • Deadly Medicine by Margaret Truman; Since Margaret died more than eight years ago, she did not really write this. My brother Charles would always say that she did not write any of them. Maybe he was right. This was entertaining and I enjoyed. If you like the Capitol murder series, you may enjoy this.
  • Among the Wicked by Linda Castillo; This is the latest in the Kate Burkholder mystery series. Kate goes undercover in an Upstate New York Amish community. It is a page turner. I had trouble putting it down and read it in two days.
  • Tuesday’s Gone by Nicci French: This is the second in the Freida Klein mystery series. A social worker checks on a mentally disabled woman and finds her entertaining a corpse that is long dead and covered with flies.
  • Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr: The first in the Anna Pigeon mystery series. Anna is a park ranger in the National Forest Service. My sister recommended it because all of the murders happen in different National Parks. I’m not sure that I will read all of these. I have the second one in case it is better, so I will let you know.
  • Are You Smart Enough To Work At Google? by William Poundstone; No, I am not, but this is a book of trick questions, riddles and puzzles to test a prospective employee’s creativity.



  • I recently listened to and enjoyed His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. I had picked up “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik first (an unusual fantasy book with Polish influences), and when I liked that I realized that she had written the Temeraire series! “His Majesty’s Dragon” is an alternate history fantasy book where dragons exist and are used in their own branch of the military, and they are fighting in the Napoleonic Wars.
  • I also listened to As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride which was very great since it’s written and read by Cary Elwes but also includes quotes and excerpts from other people involved in the film, so it really wouldn’t be the same if you read the book instead of the audiobook! If you love the movie The Princess Bride I would definitely recommend giving this a listen!

Janice: I read Shakespeare’s Gardens by Jackie Bennett. The photographer Andrew Lawson deserves just as much credit for his luscious photos in this new book which is as much travelogue as literary remembrance. It’s based on the four houses most closely associated with William Shakespeare and his family: his birthplace at Stratford-Upon-Avon; his mother’s home at Wilmcote; his wife Anne Hathaway’s cottage; and his own home, New Place. The detailed descriptions and stories of these landmarks are interspersed with quotes from various plays and poems. Do you remember this one? “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other word would smell as sweet” from Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, scene 1.


  • I’m reading Arrowood by Laura McHugh author of The Weight of Blood. Arrowood is a fantastic southern gothic mystery set in a creepy old house in Mississippi. Arden’s twin sisters were kidnapped twenty years ago while she (only 8 years old) was supposed to be watching them. After inheriting her childhood home, she returns to the old memories and mystery of what really happened.
  • I’m rewatching Gilmore Girls while waiting for the revival on Netflix!

Louise: Freud’s Mistress by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman. This is a delicious piece of romantic historical fiction. Mack and Kaufman are going on the assumption that Sigmund Freud had an affair with his wife’s sister, Minna Bernays. There has been speculation that this occurred.
This novel is gripping from start to finish. One is horrified to see the limited options for unmarried women in 1895 Vienna. The Anti-Semitism of the time is also portrayed in this novel. Minna is in a difficult situation with no position and no job. She accepts her sister Martha’s offer to help her out in a chaotic household with six children. Martha enjoys her elixir (which is made from opium) which helps with her ailments but puts her rather out of commission.
Sigmund works on his theories of human development, dream interpretation and human sexuality in his study, working until all hours. Minna, who is very well read and intellectually curious, spends hours talking with Freud in his private study. Children and spouses are forbidden to enter his study and interrupt his work. Minna is fortunate to be invited in and an attraction develops between the two. Freud offers her some of his coca which they both insert into their noses….
The rest as they say, is history!


  • All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. (E-book). This book, the choice for the 2016 Waltham High School One School/One Book Program, is extremely timely and thought provoking. Rashad, an African-American high school student, is severely beaten by a police officer, who wrongly believes that Rashad is shoplifting, prompting much discussion and acts of protest from Rashad’s fellow students. Quinn, who witnesses the event and is friends with the police officer’s brother, finds himself questioning what he believes is right and wrong. Told in alternating points of view with each author taking on each protagonist’s voice, this is a thought provoking novel sure to start a discussion. As a woman, I have to admit that I loved the fact that all of the female characters were great characters who provided intelligent voices of reason in both narratives.
  • Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell. In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, main character, Cath, spends much of her time working on her fan fiction, Carry On based on the Simon Snow series, a thinly disguised Harry Potter. Readers and Rowell were curious enough to want to know more about Cath’s work, and the world of Simon Snow, that Rowell decided to expand the world and publish an original novel. As a Harry Potter fan, I was initially reluctant to read this, but having enjoyed Rowell’s other books and revisiting Harry Potter after reading the latest play, I decided to give this a chance. I’m very glad I did. The novel gently parodies not only Harry Potter but many fantasy properties and other series featuring a so-called “chosen one”, in such a clever and original way. I dare say the characters, including Simon, his nemesis turned ally, Baz, Simon’s best friend, Penelope, are not only well drawn but are even more dimensional than most of the Harry Potter characters. It even addresses some of the issues with the more well known series, such as why a school’s headmaster would knowingly put a young person in danger in order to fulfill a prophecy. The book is certainly a treat if you are already fans of Fangirl and Harry Potter, but it is not necessarily to be familiar with either property to enjoy this.
  • Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty (Downloadable audiobook). Childhood friends, Erika and Clementine, and their families were at a barbecue at Erika’s neighbor’s house when something horrible happened. What that something is, we don’t find out until very late in the novel, as we get bits and pieces from different characters’ points of view of that fateful day. I have enjoyed Liane Moriarty very much, but this was my least favorite of her titles. I didn’t understand why Erika and Clementine were friends, and I finished the novel still not understanding. While I was drawn in to the story, immediately, with previous titles of hers, I didn’t take to this very quickly. However, patience did pay off, and, while I did not love it, I did end up enjoying it more than I did, in the beginning. Supporting characters, Tiffany and Vid (the barbecue hosts) were extremely compelling and fleshed out, and made for the most interesting parts of the novel. Regular Moriarty narrator, Caroline Lee, is a gem, as usual! I can’t imagine listening or reading a Liane Moriarty novel without hearing Lee’s voice.
  • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. At the risk of sounding a little too fangirlish, I have a bit of a girl crush on Jacqueline Woodson. We were very lucky to host Ms. Woodson last year, and she was incredibly kind and gracious to the young fans who asked her about writing. I admire her advocacy, including her efforts with #We Need Diverse Books, addressing a very serious problem regarding the lack of diverse characters in children’s and young adult literature. And, of course, this is all in addition to her writing, which is lyrical and amazing. Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming, written in verse, is one of the best memoirs I’ve read. I was very excited to hear that Woodson was writing her first adult novel in over 20 years with Another Brooklyn, a novel about coming of age in a black neighborhood in 1970’s Brooklyn. I was not disappointed. Woodson’s writing shines through and is as beautiful as ever. My only complaint is that the book is so short, quickly ending my time with her writing.
  • Shem Creek by Dorothea Benton Frank. Dorothea Benton Frank is a very funny writer, who truly loves her native South Carolina, and often makes that alive with her rich characters and mouth watering descriptions of food. This, however, was not one of her best novels. The two main characters, who fall in love, don’t have great chemistry. Years old tension between the main character and her daughter is resolved much too quickly, and an incident involving the daughter’s teacher and eco terrorism seems to be lifted out of a different novel. The only character that was well drawn is the second wife of the main character’s ex-husband, a character that was only in one scene. If you want to try Frank, start with another one of her titles.
  • Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. (Downloadable Audiobook). This collection of essays, narrated by Poehler, is a mixed bag. Many of the essays were nothing more than literal bullet lists of anecdotes, and tried to address serious issues in superficial ways. When Poehler hits, though, she hits. Cameos from Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, and Carol Burnett are enjoyable. (A cameo from Seth Meyers, who I also like, didn’t do much for me). I also greatly enjoyed Poehler’s essay on working mothers versus stay-at-home mothers in which she encourages both groups to have better respect for the other, criticizing society for pitting the two groups against each other. This essay saved the book for me.
  • In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick. In 1819, the whaleship, Essex, left Nantucket with a crew of 20. Over a year later, it was rammed by a large whale, resulting in the crew escaping, and after months of survival tactics (including cannibalism), only eight returned home. This descriptive book, gives a great sense of time and place, and is a fascinating account of a truly horrifying event (which later inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick). Descriptions of dehydration made me reach for my water bottle more than I usually do!

This Week’s Best Seller Lists — August 14, 2016

This Week’s Best Seller Lists — August 7, 2016

Staff Reads — August 8, 2016



  • 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.
    Happy listening!


  • 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.

Nancy D.:

  • 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.

Waltham Postcard Collection

Waltham Public Library Postcard

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!

This Week’s Best Seller Lists — July 24, 2016

Staff Reads — July 1, 2016


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 book cover
    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? book cover
    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.


Gerry C.:

  • 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.

This Week’s Best Sellers — June 26, 2016

This Week’s Best Sellers — May 29, 2016

This Week’s Best Sellers — May 22, 2016

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