Staff Reads — Week of December 7, 2015


Here is what the staff has been reading, lately:

Todd: Peter & Max: A Fables Novel: “If you are fan of the graphic novel Fables, you will like this. It drags on a bit, but it is a good story.” Todd also downloaded the album Calypso Kitch from the library’s subscription to Freegal. He also viewed the “mediocre horror movie” The Cabining from the library’s subscription to Hoopla.


  • “Catch The Jew by Tuvia Tenenbom, like its title, is funny and alarming at the same time. Picture Michael Moore traveling through Israel and its environs and you will have a foretaste of what is to come. Tenenbom was raised in an Ultra-Orthodox community in Israel. He has since moved to Brooklyn where he runs the Jewish Theatre of New York. Tuvia speaks fluent German, Arabic, Hebrew and American. He poses as Tobi the German when interviewing people who have an Anti-Zionist bias.
    This book will change your perspective on the complex situation of Israel vis a vis the Ultra-Orthodox groups, the Palestinians, the Israeli government, the Israeli army, the Right wing, the left wing, the Bedouins and the many European NGOs who have a presence in the country. Whether you agree with Mr. Tenenbom or not, you will laugh even as you cry. This book was a number one best seller in Israel and in Germany as well. Recommended for anyone interested in this subject who likes a little humor with their reporting.
    I give this book five Dead Sea Scrolls up!”
  • “Pulitzer Prize winning reporter David Finkel follows the Second Battalion in The Good Soldiers, Sixteenth Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army as they are called in to Iraq as part of President Bush’s Surge in 2007. Most of the soldiers in this regiment are very young men, with an average age of nineteen. We see the horror and the boredom, the victories and the losses that the battalion must struggle with. The soldiers and their Iraqui translator in this very well written book come across as extremely human and vulnerable.
    There is some profanity in this book and some violence. However, it presents a relatively objective reporting of one Regiment’s experience both in Iraq and afterwards. Recommended for anyone who is interested in reading about wartime experience written by a journalist without a particular political agenda.
    I give this book four army helmets up!”
  • “Nathaniel Fick writes a first person account of his very rigorous and grueling training to be a Marine Officer in One Bullet Away: The Making Of a Marine Officer. (This reviewer can’t even do a cartwheel and is awed by the many amazing feats that Fick is able to perform. I had no idea how difficult Marine Officer training could be!) Fick graduated from Dartmouth University in 1999 and decided to embark on this challenging journey. He tells you about his experiences in Iraq and in Afghanistan. This book is recommended to anyone who wonders about what it takes to be a capable leader in wartime. This book also is recommended to anyone who is interested in the amount of teamwork that is required for a military unit to succeed.
    This book has some profanity and violence.
    I give this book four marine corp insignias up!”
  • All Who Go Do Not Return by Shulem Deen: “Shulem Deen was raised in a very religious family and chooses to live his adult life in a very traditional Hassidic community. This first person account of his experience in the Skverer community in Rockland County, New York, opens a window to a world that very few have experienced. The reader follows Shulem’s Yeshiva education, arranged marriage, and his gradual disaffection from the community.
    This book is recommended to readers of memoir, those interested in learning about cultures and beliefs different from their own, and people interested in questions of faith in the modern world.
    I give this book five yarmulkes up!”



  • In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume: “Judy Blume, my childhood hero, is the only woman who could actually get me to read about plane crashes, three of them, to be exact. Based on true events in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the 1950’s, this novel details how a community is affected by three planes crashing into the town over the period of a few months. Told in third person point of view, but from the minds of various community members, the book mainly features the story of 15 year old Miri Ammerman, and how her life changes in many ways during that fateful year. I enjoyed this book very much, mainly because it had a very similar vibe to Blume’s Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, one of my favorite novels.”
  • The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar: “In an effort to save their marriage after the death of their son, Frank and Ellie Benton, move to India for Frank’s job, where Frank becomes attached to the young son of their cook and housekeeper. This novel is thoughtful, melancholy, and beautifully written, until the end, when the tone completely shifts and it turns into an over the top thriller.”
  • The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson: “Hayley has been on the road for many years with her veteran father, who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He decides that it’s time for them to be settled and so he moves them to his hometown, where Hayley attends public high school. She is quick to mistrust the adults in her life, and is skeptical about potential friends, as well. Meanwhile, she must continue to play the adult in her house, as her father’s problems with PTSD continue to spiral out of control.”
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: “I agree with Jeanette that there is a bit of a Rear Window vibe in this book, so I would suggest this book for any suspense fans who like a bit of a twist. Three first person narrators, a couple not so reliable, relate the tale of Rachel, a British commuter obsessed with a couple she sees every morning from the train window. When the woman she dubs “Jess” disappears, Rachel finds that she’s perhaps closer to the situation than she initially realized. Told from the point of view of Rachel, her ex-husband’s new wife (Anna), and the missing woman in the months leading up to her disappearance, The Girl on the Train is a thriller about a world not as it seems told through the mind of a raging alcoholic. For those of you who were less than thrilled with Gone Girl, don’t be deterred by the comparisons. I was not a fan of Gone Girl and I enjoyed this one.”


  • Perfect/ Rachel Joyce: “England is the backdrop for this story that is set in two different time zones; the spring and summer of 1972 and the present, with the some of the characters featuring in both zones. As the story unfolds, it eventually becomes obvious that there will be some merging of the two strands.
    There are many layers to “Perfect” and also a range of interesting characters. Byron Hemmings and James Lowe are boys in 1972, interested in the world around them and full of ideas and plans. They are particularly interested in the thought that two seconds will be taken away from time during the year and it is Byron’s amazement at seeing the second hand of his watch moving backwards that leads to an event which will ultimately change his life and the lives of those around him. A very intriguing read.”
  • The Ghost Fields / Elly Griffiths: “Another great Ruth Galloway mystery, I am really hooked on these books. Ruth is such a believable, down to earth character.
    In this installment, a bulldozer makes a grizzly discovery of a WWII airplane with the pilot still instill inside. Galloway is called in and discovers the body is the son of the family living in a nearby manor and he hadn’t been piloting that particular plane. How did he get there and why? Evidence points this way and that, leaving the reader in suspense about murderer and motive.”
  • White Dresses : a Memoir of Love and Secrets, Mothers and Daughters / Mary Pflum Peterson: “This is a compelling story of several generations of women all connected by the white dresses from all the significant life events they experienced. Mary Pflum Petersen tells her mother’s story and her own through the white dresses marking major events in their lives. Mary couldn’t rescue her mother from eventual hoarding, however she managed to pull the meaningful white dresses out of the horrific wreckage. Mary’s Mom always told her that White dresses were symbolic of starting over…a clean slate.This was an captivating story and I had a hard time putting it down. This book was engaging to the end; ultimately, it is a beautiful testament to the love and devotion of mother and daughter.”
  • Off the Black [videorecording]: “A very good indie debut by first time director James Ponsoldt, just a well told story and some very fine performances. Nolte, in particular, totally embodies his characters ailments and addictions. He is a
    grumpy high school umpire and catches one of three high school boys who are in the act of vandalizing his house. From there a very unlikely friendship develops.”
  • After You / Jojo Moyes: the long awaited sequel to Me Before You and I have just started it. So here’s hoping I won’t be disappointed.
  • First Degree / David Rosenfelt.(hoopla streaming): “This is my first David Rosenfelt book and I am captured. Andy Carpenter is a New Jersey defense attorney who owing to an inherited windfall from his Dad no longer needs cases to survive for a living. However this is an inviting case that involves a dubious character who comes into his office confessing to the grisly murder of corrupt police officer Alex Dorsey. So far it is smooth and entertaining and I find myself laughing out loud. And better still it is on hoopla which means it is always available for streaming!”

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