What the Director is Reading

The Scorpio Races – Maggie Stiefvater “It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.” I reread this book every November. It has unforgettable characters and the descriptions of the fictional island of Thisby will draw vivid images in your mind. Based loosely on old myths and stories, the vicious, carnivorous…

Ari’s Historical Fiction Picks

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid “Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?…

Jen’s Pick: If you miss Downton Abbey…

House of Gold – Natasha Solomons “The start of a marriage. The end of a dynasty. It’s 1911 and Greta Goldbaum is forced to move from glittering Vienna to damp England to wed Albert, a distant cousin. The Goldbaum family are one of the wealthiest in the world, with palaces across Europe, but as Jews…

Rachel Reads: Massachusetts Book Awards Nominees

The Massachusetts Book Awards recognize significant works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s/young adult literature published by current Commonwealth residents. As a judge for the 21st Annual Awards, I’ve been tasked with reading all fourteen fiction nominees. Read more reviews here. Set in a (post-apocalyptic?) future, The Bear follows an unnamed father and daughter through…

Ari’s Favorite Halloween Movies and Books

Are you looking for some spooky movies and books to read this month to countdown to Halloween? Here are my favorite movies and books to watch and read for the month of Halloween! Movies to Watch Addams Family Values Clue The Nightmare Before Christmas BeetleJuice Sleepy Hollow Corpse Bride Crimson Peak Frankenstein The Shining Nosferatu…

Michelle Recommends: Wolves and Honey: A Hidden History of the Natural World – Susan Brind Morrow

“Susan Brind Morrow brings her singular sensibility as a classicist and linguist to this strikingly original reflection on the fine but resilient threads that bind humans to the natural world. Anchored in the emblematic experiences of a trapper and a beekeeper, Wolves and Honey explores the implications of their very different relationships to the natural…

What the Director is Reading

Wilmington’s Lie: the Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy – David Zucchino. I won’t lie, there are no silver linings in this work of nonfiction. It is the unflinching and highly readable account of a well planned overthrow of the Republican government in Wilmington, North Carolina by the local Democrats. There…

Rachel Reads: Massachusetts Book Awards Nominees

The Massachusetts Book Awards recognize significant works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children’s/young adult literature published by current Commonwealth residents. As a judge for the 21st Annual Awards, I’ve been tasked with reading all fourteen fiction nominees. Looking for an eccentric short story collection? Try Julian K. Jarboe’s Everyone on the Moon Is Essential Personnel.…

Julie Recommends a Book List

In her September newsletter Deanna Raybourn*, author of the Veronica Speedwell series and the Lady Julia Grey series, shared an intriguing list of books, several of which I plan to read. This, in particular, sounded really interesting: The Woman Before Wallis: Prince Edward, the Parisian Courtesan, and the Perfect Murder – Andrew Rose “Prince Edward…

Shilpa Reviews: Steeped in Stories:Timeless Children’s Novels to Refresh our Tired Souls – Mitali Perkins

Who says children’s books are only for children? Rereading books from my childhood with my children has been exciting and eye-opening. Through adult eyes, the nuances jump out at me like newly discovered treasures making for fun and often lively discussions with my kids. With her immigrant background and through personal anecdotes, Mitali Perkins’ new…

What the Director Is Reading

The Traitor’s Blade by Kevin Sands, the 5th book in the Blackthorn Key series. This terrific middle grade series for older elementary/teen readers (and people like me!) features an apothecary’s apprentice in London in the mid-1600s. Every book finds Christopher and his friends using chemistry and ciphers to help solve a crime or mystery. I…

Patron Recommendation: Becoming Mrs. Lewis

“When poet and writer Joy Davidman began writing letters to C. S. Lewis—known as Jack—she was looking for spiritual answers, not love. Love, after all, wasn’t holding together her crumbling marriage. Everything about New Yorker Joy seemed ill-matched for an Oxford professor and the beloved writer of The Chronicles of Narnia, yet their minds bonded…

Shilpa’s What’s Your Four?

Steeped in Stories – Mitali Perkins “The stories we read as children shape us for the rest of our lives. But it is never too late to discover that transformative spark of hope that children’s classics can ignite within us. Award-winning children’s author Mitali Perkins grew up steeped in stories–escaping into her books on the…

Rachel Reviews: Ghosts – Dolly Alderton

Ghosts starts and ends on Nina Dean’s birthday but, in between, the reader gets to spend a year in the life of someone trying to figure it out. She falls in love and also out of it, she starts arguments and then reconciles them, she struggles and makes mistakes and realizes big things… and then…

Chelsey’s What’s Your Four?

The Sweetness of Water – Nathan Harris “In the waning days of the Civil War, brothers Prentiss and Landry—freed by the Emancipation Proclamation—seek refuge on the homestead of George Walker and his wife, Isabelle. The Walkers, wracked by the loss of their only son to the war, hire the brothers to work their farm, hoping…

Fran’s What’s Your Four?

The Forest of Vanishing Stars – Kristin Harmel “After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror.…

Charlotte’s What’s Your Four?

Churchill & Son – Josh Ireland “We think we know Winston Churchill: the bulldog grimace, the ever-present cigar, the wit and wisdom that led Great Britain through the Second World War. Yet away from the House of Commons and the Cabinet War Rooms, Churchill was a loving family man who doted on his children, none…

Jen’s What’s Your Four?

Midnight in Chernobyl – Adam Higginbotham “Early in the morning of April 26, 1986, Reactor Number Four of the Chernobyl Atomic Energy Station exploded, triggering one of the twentieth century’s greatest disasters. In the thirty years since then, Chernobyl has become lodged in the collective nightmares of the world: shorthand for the spectral horrors of…

Julie’s To Be Read

My current TBR stack is a little unusual for me – two non-fiction and only one fiction. I love mysteries, and I have Donna Leon’s latest, Transient Desires, right at the top of my stack. About the book: “In his many years as a commissario, Guido Brunetti has seen all manner of crime and known…

Ari Reviews: The Social Graces – Renée Rosen

I enjoyed reading this book. I could not put this book down and as a historical fiction book lover this one I highly recommend for those who love historical fiction. The Social Graces takes you into 1870’s New York City during the Gilded Age that focuses on the Vanderbilts and Astors in the book. It…

Sue O’s What’s Your Four?

The Beekeeper Of Aleppo – Christy Lefteri “Nuri is a beekeeper and Afra, his wife, is an artist. Mornings, Nuri rises early to hear the call to prayer before driving to his hives in the countryside. On weekends, Afra sells her colorful landscape paintings at the open-air market. They live a simple life, rich in…

Chris S’s What’s Your Four?

The Social Cinema of Jean Renoir – Christopher Faulkner “Reinterpreting twelve of Renoir’s best-known works, Professor Faulkner attributes their qualities not to the director’s unified sensibility but to varying social and historical circumstances.” Mythologies – Roland Barthes “‘No denunciation without its proper instrument of close analysis,’ Roland Barthes wrote in his preface to Mythologies. There…

Richard Recommends Non-Fiction Page-Turners

1774 The Long Year of Revolution – Mary Beth Norton “In this masterly work of history, the culmination of more than four decades of research and thought, Mary Beth Norton looks at the sixteen months leading up to the clashes at Lexington and Concord in mid-April 1775. This was the critical, and often overlooked, period…

Michelle’s What’s Your Four?

The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present – Eric R. Kandal “At the turn of the century, Vienna was the cultural capital of Europe. Artists and scientists met in glittering salons, where they freely exchanged ideas that led to revolutionary breakthroughs…

Ari’s What’s Your Four?

Hour of the Witch – Chris Bohjalian “Boston, 1662. Mary Deerfield is twenty-four-years-old. Her skin is porcelain, her eyes delft blue, and in England she might have had many suitors. But here in the New World, amid this community of saints, Mary is the second wife of Thomas Deerfield, a man as cruel as he…

Jim’s What’s Your Four?

A Master of Djinn – P. Djeli Clark “Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer. So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most…

Angelina’s What’s Your Four?

The Last Traverse -Ty Gagne “On a mountain somewhere above treeline, in some of the coldest and worst winter conditions imaginable, two men lie unconscious in the snow as explosive winds batter the nearby summits. In The Last Traverse; Tragedy and Resilience in the Winter Whites, Ty Gagne masterfully lays out the events that led…

Julie’s What’s Your Four?

A Distant Grave – Sarah Stewart Taylor “Long Island homicide detective Maggie D’arcy and her teenage daughter, Lilly, are still recovering from the events of last fall when a strange new case demands Maggie’s attention. The body of an unidentified Irish national turns up in a wealthy Long Island beach community and with little to…

Rachel’s What’s Your Four?

One Last Stop – Casey McQuiston “For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving…

Recommended by our Biography Book Club

Angelina did a survey with her book club to find out their favorites that they’ve read so far. Here are the top three so far! 1. Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl  “When Condé Nast offered Ruth Reichl the top position at America’s oldest epicurean magazine, she declined. She was a writer, not a…

Sue’s Recent Reads

Fifty Words for Rain – Asha Lemmie  Sue’s comment: I really liked this! “Kyoto, Japan, 1948. “Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist.” Such is eight-year-old Noriko “Nori” Kamiza’s first lesson. She will not question why her mother abandoned her with only these final words. She will not fight her confinement to the attic…

Lorraine’s Recent Reads

The Yellow Wife – Sedeqa Johnson Lorraine’s thoughts: I liked it but was wishing for a little more historical information. Perhaps I didn’t care for the author’s writing style? I would like to try another of her books. “Born on a plantation in Charles City, Virginia, Pheby Delores Brown has lived a relatively sheltered life.…

Angelina Recommends: Three Books on Hiking

Do you enjoy hiking? Listed below are three amazing non-fiction books for those of you that enjoy reading about mountain adventures. All three books take place in the familiar White Mountains of New Hampshire. Although with a similar setting each book comes with their own powerful lessons to be learned. Even if hiking is not…

Next Up with Chris

Next up on Chris’ to be read list: Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders “February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies…

What Charlotte is Reading…

Abe : Abraham Lincoln in His Times – David Reynolds  “From one of the great historians of nineteenth-century America, a revelatory and enthralling new biography of Lincoln, many years in the making, that brings him to life within his turbulent age. David S. Reynolds, author of the Bancroft Prize-winning cultural biography of Walt Whitman and…

Rachel Reviews: The Ex-Talk – Rachel Lynn Solomon

The Ex Talk—two rival coworkers pretend to be exes in lieu of unemployment!—is a fresh take on enemies-to-lovers with that certain charm I loved in Today Tonight Tomorrow. The addition of Shay’s personal life and her feelings of inadequacy, imposter syndrome, and lingering grief gave an otherwise tropey romance layers, but I especially enjoyed how Solomon…

Two Titles on Jen’s TBR List

Elizabeth & Margaret: The Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters – Andrew Morton “Perfect for fans of The Crown, this captivating biography from a New York Times bestselling author follows Queen Elizabeth II and her sister Margaret as they navigate life in the royal spotlight. They were the closest of sisters and the best of friends. But when,…

Just Finished, Just Started, Next Up with Chelsey

Just finished: The Midnight Library – Matt Haig (Loved it!) “Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you…

What Jen is Reading…

“A timeless murder mystery with the fascinating, glamorous Mitford sisters at its heart, The Mitford Trial is the fourth installment in the Mitford Murders series from Jessica Fellowes, inspired by a real-life murder in a story full of intrigue, affairs and betrayal… It’s lady’s maid Louisa Cannon’s wedding day, but the fantasy is shattered shortly after…

Recommendations from the Middle School Book Club

The Witch Boy – Molly Knox Ostertag (ebook) “In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden…

Celebrating National Poetry Month

I’m going to kick off the celebration with a project I discovered last year: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Big Read. I was instantly hooked after listening to the first reading (by actor Jeremy Irons—see below—which I may or may not have listened to more than once) and eagerly looked forward to the next…

Fran Reviews: Eternal – Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline has brought to life the fear and terror of Mussolini’s reign and the horrors of Fascism in World War II Italy. Through the characters of Elisabetta, Marco, Sandro and their families. the reader can visualize what it felt like to be a Jew or a friend of a Jew and the inhumane consequences…

What Jen is Reading…

“IN A TIME OF RASPUTIN’S MAGIC AND ROMANOV MYSTERY, A YOUNG GIRL FINDS HERSELF AT THE HEART OF THE ROYAL FAMILY She was an orphan, ushered into the royal palace on the prayers of her majestry. Yet, decades later, her time spent in the embrace of the Romanovs haunts her still. Is she responsible for…

Michelle Reviews: Warlight – Michael Ondaatje

“We order our lives with barely held stories. As if we have been lost in a confusing landscape, gathering what was invisible and unspoken…sewing it all together in order to survive…” Nathaniel and his sister Rachel were children when their parents left them in the care of a man they called The Moth. The connection…

Coming Soon to the Collection: Radio Dramas Edition

Did you know we already have a collection of full-cast radio dramas on CD? We do! Titles range from Agatha Christie’s mysteries to David Tennant reprising his role as the Tenth Doctor to comedies such as Cabin Pressure and Jeeves and Wooster (and plenty more besides). Below are a few new-to-the-library dramas that will soon…

What Jen is Reading…

The Mitford Scandal – Jessica Fellowes (Also available in Large Print) “In the third book in the Mitford Murders series, lady’s maid Louisa Cannon accompanies Diana Mitford into a turbulent late 1920s Europe. The year is 1928, and after the death of a maid at a glamorous society party, fortune heir Bryan Guinness seizes life…

Sue Reviews: Writers & Lovers – Lily King

Lily King is a local author, having grown up on the North Shore, her father was a teacher at Pingree and she is an alumni of the school. Her latest book Writers & Lovers is a book about grief, determination and challenging decisions. Casey Peabody, a young girl living in Brookline is mourning the unexpected…

What Jen is Reading…

The Crown in Crisis: Countdown to the Abdication – Alexander Larman (ebook) “On December 10, 1936, King Edward VIII brought a great international drama to a close when he abdicated, renouncing the throne of the United Kingdom for himself and his heirs. The reason he gave when addressing his subjects was that he could not…

Recommendations from the Middle School Book Club

Keeper of the Lost Cities – Shannon Messenger (ebook) “Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. The reason? Sophie’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. No one knows her secret—at…

What Jen is Reading…

The Best of Me – David Sedaris (ebook | eaudio) “For more than twenty-five years, David Sedaris has been carving out a unique literary space, virtually creating his own genre. A Sedaris story may seem confessional, but is also highly attuned to the world outside. It opens our eyes to what is at absurd and…

Notes from Spring 2021 Book Buzz Presentations

After watching several webcasts presented by marketing teams from various publishing houses my notebook is now full up with lists of upcoming titles of interest. Below is a very small selection of fiction and non-fiction titles pulled from those lists (release dates range from February to June). Happy (future) reading! We Begin at the End…

Sarah Recommends: Mind-Bending Movies

This past year, many of us have faced quarantine boredom and tried to combat it with puzzles, books, games, or television shows. While all of these are acceptable substitutes, sometimes the best way to drag our minds away from the monotony of the world we are currently living in is through films that leave us…

Fran Reviews: Walking with Ghosts – Gabriel Byrne

A very engaging and well-written memoir. The actor’s strong educational background is very evident as he recalls his strict Catholic upbringing and all the factors in his life that brought him such success as a respected actor. About Walking with Ghosts [ebook]: “As a young boy growing up in the outskirts of Dublin, Gabriel Byrne…

Recommendations from the Middle School Book Club

The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken “When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that got her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that…

Julie Recommends: International Mysteries

  Three of our more popular mystery authors are Louise Penny, Donna Leon, and Ann Cleeves, whose books are set in Quebec, Venice, and England respectively.  Always on the lookout for new (to me) mystery series with international settings, here’s one I’m enjoying now, and a few I’ll be trying soon.  And if you’re looking…

Becca Spotlights: Jan Brett

Author and illustrator Jan Brett has captured the hearts of adults and children alike over the past four decades. Her books often feature adorable animal characters getting into mischief and you can find a hedgehog either front and center or secretly hidden in many of her stories. You can check out many of Jan’s books…

Sarah Spotlights: Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Hoopla

Valentine’s Day: a holiday meant to celebrate the Feast of Saint Valentine and also a day filled with the promise of candy, flowers, jewelry, and love. Annually couples traverse the streets, making reservations at fancy restaurants where they can share a meal and celebrate love. However, with the events of 2020 following us into 2021,…

Ari Reviews: Stepsister – Jennifer Donnelly

Stepsister is a dark version of the tale of Cinderella that is told from the viewpoint of the stepsister named Isabelle. Isabelle does not have the qualities compared to Cinderella with beauty, grace, kindness, etc. Isabelle tries to deceit the prince to claim him when she removes her own toes to fit in Cinderella’s glass…

Lisa Spotlights: The Scholastic Storybook Treasure Series

Do you want to bring some of the Scholastic Classic stories to life? Enjoy the Scholastic Storybook Treasure DVDs! There are 12 different topics including: Family Adventures, Nature Stories, Holiday Adventures and more! Each DVD includes 20 stories that come to life! Perfect to enjoy with the family! Titles currently available in the children’s DVD…

Ari Reviews: The Downstairs Girl – Stacey Lee

The Downstairs Girl is set in 19th century Atlanta, Georgia that tells the story about a young seventeen-year-old girl named Jo Kuan. Jo and her guardian Old Gin live secretly under Mr. Bell’s house who is a publisher for the newspaper called “The Focus” that is not doing so well with publications and public interest.…

Recommendations from the Middle School Book Club

The War that Saved My Life – Kimberly Brubaker Bradley “Ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join…