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.