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.
- Far from the Madding Crowd: Enjoyed watching this movie.
- Woman in Gold: I am a Helen Mirren fan so enjoyed this.
- Grantchester: A Masterpiece Theatre series that follows two unlikely allies, an Angelican vicar and a police detective, as they solve a series of murder cases in 1950s England.
- Me, Earl and the Dying Girl: A sad story
- Wallander Series starring Kenneth Branaugh: Although I didn’t like Kenneth Branaugh in this part, he was not a likeable guy, I did watch the entire series.”
Tory: Tory has read, watched, and listened to the following:
- An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon (#7 of the Outlander series)
- Secrets of the Talking Jaguar by Martín Prechtel
- Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams (read by Martin Freeman!)
- Songs for Christmas by Sufjan Stevens
- “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 Book in the Grave [sound recording] : a Bibliophile Mystery / Kate Carlisle. “Second try got me into this book – Sometimes I’m not in the mood for a story like this but the second try did the trick – interesting story with a little intrigue thrown in.”
- 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”.
- “Reading The Chinese Mission Food Truck by Danny Bowien and Chris Ying. It’s a great book with too many delicious recipes which I need to cook soon.”
- “I’m planning to watch Dead Sushi and Final Girl off Hoopla, streaming from my phone to my TV with a Chromecast.”
- “Listening to To The Confusion Of Our Enemies one of my favorite albums by the Riverboat Gamblers.”
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.”