Staff Reads — January 27, 2017


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Jan: I read the new book by Julian Fellowes Belgravia. Of course, he is the famous author of fiction all Anglophiles recognize: Snobs; Past Imperfect; Gosford Park, and Downton Abbey. This latest gives us all the twists and turns and surprises we’ve come to expect in an epic story. You’re sure to love this engrossing read.


  • Missing, Presumed : a novel / Susie Steiner: Another great British crime novel with superb character development.It centers around a young woman who goes missing and the implications to her family and friends as the investigation into her whereabouts continues. The author reveals frustrations involved in missing person cases, plus harmful effects of media on the processes used.
  • Behind Closed Doors / B. A. Paris: A psychological thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat.It was creepy, disturbingly so but I was unable to put it down!
  • Bookshop on the Corner /Jenny Colgan: This book was the perfect antidote to all the crime and psychological thrillers I seem to read on a regular basis. It was a perfectly delightful read about a librarian with a gift for finding the perfect book for her readers. However Nina is facing a crisis, her library is being closed for redundancy. She ends up purchasing a large van, perfect for a mobile bookshop and moves to the wilds of Scotland! And there her life and adventures really begin to flourish.Heartwarming with a great message.
  • The Trespasser / Tana French: Have just started reading this novel by one of my favorite authors, Tana French. Tana is an Irish writer who has an uncanny knack for character development, especially the characters who reside in the Dublin murder Squad. Antoinette Conway, is a woman detective in a man’s world. I know this won’t disappoint.
  • The Family Fang / DVD: Nicole Kidman, Jason Bateman and Christopher Walken are the stars in this dysfunctional family story line. It is funny, perceptive, thought-provoking.

A Tale of Two Cocktail Books…

  • The Essential New York Times Book of Cocktails: Along with over 350 recipes for cocktails, many from current NY establishments, this collection also includes essays written by well-known cocktail writers. The book is primarily divided by drink with chapters on the negroni, Martini, and Manhattan for instance, along with sections that encompass wine, beer, bitters and champagne, as well. The recipes are simple to follow but many require ingredients that may not be on hand at a home bar. However, I found several cocktails that I was able to put together without a trip to the store, including recipes that allow me to combine my love for cocktails with my love of beer into one festive drink.
  • Cocktails for Drinkers: If the ingredients of the NYT book seem unattainable, check out Cocktails for Drinkers. These “not-even-remotely artisanal” (per the cover) cocktails are comprised of four ingredients or less and, along with author Jennifer McCartney’s pithy remarks, will be the salve for your thirsty cocktail-desiring soul.
  • The Mothers by Brit Bennett: This debut novel appeared on several ‘best of’ lists at the end of 2016 and it was one of my top reads of the year, as well. The title accurately sums up the central theme of the novel but concepts of gender and race also play heavily here. The questions raised within stay with you long after you finish the last page.
  • 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino: It’s Christmas Eve Eve in this fantastic novel that bebops through one day in the life of several Philadelphia city dwellers. We are introduced to characters at an energetic, almost frenzied pace that brings to life the great jazz music that plays a prominent role in the lives of those we met as well as in the life of the city. Ultimately, this is a story about the power of music that boasts an ending that ranks on my list of best ever.


  • I’m not usually current with what everyone is reading but I managed to get to this one recently –
    A Man Called Ove [sound recording] / Fredrik Backman: I didn’t think I would be able to make it through the first disc…as I was not enjoying this story. Almost gave up on it but glad I didn’t. An excellent story about an unhappy man who finds happiness even though he remains true to his cantankerous self.
    Also by listening to the book I found I’d been mispronouncing the title – The narrator pronounced the name as Oova! (With the O being a U sound) I was saying Ohve (with the O being an O sound) If that makes any sense! If not you’ll have to get the book and listen to it hear it for yourself…
  • The Charm Bracelet : a novel / Viola Shipman: I loved this book – Getting ready for my 50th High School Reunion – I came across my own Charm Bracelet – Saw an essay in a magazine about a Charm Bracelet written by the author Wade Rouse – who used the pseudonym Viola Shipman to honor his two Grandmothers when writing this novel.
  • Nine Women, One Dress : a novel [sound recording] / Jane L. Rosen: Started this but decided I just didn’t care about the dress – I enjoyed The Charm Bracelet more!
  • Night [sound recording] / Elie Wiesel: I read this book back in high school because I had to – When Mr. Wiesel passed away and a copy of his story was returned – I decided to revisit it. Meant more to me as an adult though the horrors experienced were difficult to hear.
  • The Guilty [sound recording] / David Baldacci: Loved this book – Great story and it kept me on the tip of my ear buds…descriptive chases and gun battles were well done. Male and Female readers added to the enjoyment!
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette [sound recording] / Maria Semple: Couldn’t get into this one – Think I’m too old to get involved with notorious Mom’s dealing with family problems.
  • Rogue Lawyer [sound recording] / John Grisham: Hadn’t read a John Grisham book in awhile this was a bit different!
  • 11.22.63 (Mini Series): Stephen King was getting a little repetitious for me with all the blood and gore and spooky characters. This was a different Stephen King story and though I didn’t like the subject, I liked his take on how things may have worked out.
  • Suits: Season one [videorecording]: Well written – though didn’t like the way the story was going with characters making the same mistakes over and over – Don’t think I’ll be watching anymore Seasons of this one.
  • Eye in the Sky: Good movie – Had me squirming the same way the movie – Tora Tora Tora did!
  • Silk Season two: Interesting learning about the court system in England. Story line and Characters were in the same vein as the American series The Good Wife.
  • Here are a couple of Children’s books I liked
    The Boy who Bit Picasso / Antony Penrose: I was intrigued by the title and really enjoyed this book – a true story. Fun looking thru the eyes of the young boy at Picasso’s life. What a great experience for him – Not sure how much children will enjoy it but this young at heart reader loved it!
    Includes photos and drawings also…
  • The Book with No Pictures / B.J. Novak: This book is the opposite of my previous “Children’s Read”, The Boy Who Bit Picasso – I think I would enjoy reading the book to a child or two! Fun fun fun and silly too!

Pat O.: Just started reading A Man Called Ove and recently watched The Secret Life of Pets with my grandson—cute & funny,especially for animal lovers!


  • The Book that Matters Most by Ann Hood: Ava, whose husband recently left her for the a yarn graffiti artist (aka the “Yarn Bomber”) finds solace in a local book club. This year, the members must choose a book that matters most to them. This quick paced book is full of coincidences and some plot contrivances, but Ava is a strong female character and the book club members make for interesting side characters.
  • Hissing Cousins: The Untold Story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth by Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer: I very much enjoyed this biography of first cousins Eleanor and Alice (daughter of Theodore Roosevelt). I knew quite a bit about Eleanor, but very little about Alice, who was extremely fascinating in her own right.
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, narrated by Hope Davis: Ann Patchett’s worst books are better than a lot of authors’ best, and so, I eagerly read (or listen, in this case) to her newest titles. This loosely autobiographical novel tells the story of the blended Keating and Cousins Families. The alternating (third person) viewpoints and timeframes make for a nice leisurely pace and I found myself very much caught up in the saga of this family. Davis’s narration also gave the story even more depth.
  • Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung: This teen Australian novel is the story of Lucy, the daughter of immigrants from Vietnam, who leaves her public school for a prestigious private school, ruled by a group of girls known as “The Cabinet”. This plot driven novel is a good view of the immigrant experience, and also a good readalike for the movie, Mean Girls.
  • Kindred by Octavia Butler: This classic time traveling novel is harrowing! Dana, an African-American woman, keeps going back in time, accidentally, crossing paths with her slave owner ancestor, who is, increasingly, more deplorable. Although time travel does provide as a device for the plot, this book is very accessible to readers who are not fans of science fiction. Although written in the 1970’s, this book has a very contemporary feel, dealing with issues regarding modern race relations and identity. This book did not feel dated at all.
  • Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham, narrated by the author (Overdrive): This breezy short read is the story of Franny in the 1990’s, who is trying to make it as an actress in New York. This (assumed) autobiographical novel is a good read for readers who enjoy a lot of dialogue and the New York acting scene.
  • The Fifty Year Mission:The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: The First 25 Years by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman: This Trekkie loved the uncensored and juicy tidbits from behind the scenes involving Star Trek: The Original Series. Some involved have very strong opinions about certain crew and cast members (and huge egos!). I also came away having a lot of sympathy for famed director, Robert Wise, who was (perhaps) unfairly blamed for a lot of the problems with the bland 1979 film, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I can’t wait to read The Next 25 Years!
  • I recently tried multiple recipes from two recently published cookbooks. The Mexican Hot Chocolate cupcakes from Prohibition Bakery were a huge hit at a dinner party as well as with family members. Chili peppers added to the scotch infused filling and the ganache frosting give it just the right amount of kick without overwhelming the eater. I’m looking forward to trying the mojito and Saucy Pumpkin cupcakes. If baking isn’t your thing, you can always visit the real Prohibition Bakery in New York!
  • I have my co-worker, Ashley, to thank for introducing me to Eat Like a Gilmore: The Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of Gilmore Girls. I know it may seem as if I’m a rabid fan of this show between this and the Lauren Graham book, but I’m much more of a casual fan. Normally, I wouldn’t even buy a cookbook for my favorite TV show, but this cookbook is fabulous. Sookie’s Jalepeno Chipotle Mac and Cheese is delicious and a great way to use left over peppers from the Mexican Hot Chocolate recipe. I consider myself a mac and cheese connoisseur, and this is high on my list. My mouth is watering while I’m writing this!

Mary V.

  • Brighton by Michael Harvey: I borrowed this book because it takes place in Brighton, Massachusetts. It was very brutal and I am not recommending it.
  • A Midsummer’s Equation By Keigo Kigashino: This is the third in the series and I did enjoy it. It was better than the second book, but Kigashino has not been able to write a story as good as his first, The Devotion of Suspect X.
  • Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner: A young woman is missing, but I could not bring myself to care. I finished the book because I wanted to see how it ended, but it was slow.
  • Points and Lines by Seicho Matsumoto: This book was written in the seventies. It is a murder mystery with a rather surprise ending. I liked it because it was about the murder only. There were no side stories about the lives of the detectives.
  • I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh: This mystery was a little slow for the first part, but became very good in the last part. The twists at the end were very unexpected.
  • I am now reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I want to learn more about the underground railroad without reading non-fiction. As expected, it is very brutal and disturbing.
  • 75th Birthday Celebration, Joan Baez’s latest CD. I was surprised by how different she sounds now.
  • Turn: Washinton’s Spies, a series about the American Revolution on AMC. I think that is very well done, but I was surprised how upset I was when the Americans hanged Major John Andre for spying. I knew he was hanged, but I didn’t expect to like him so much. I have never been fond of George Washington, but watching this series makes me dislike him even more.The fourth and final season will not be on television until September, by which time I will have forgotten all about it.
  • Night School by Lee Child: This is the latest Jack Reacher which goes back in time. Reacher is an Army MP on a special assignment. As usual with Reacher, hard to put down.

Seana: I am listening to Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult.

Pat A.:


  • Conviction by Julia Dahl: Third installment of the Rebekah Roberts mysteries. These follow a young reporter in Brooklyn as she solves crimes through her reporting. Sort of a grown up Nancy Drew.
  • The Rift: Uprising by Amy S Foster: Science Fiction features teenagers who were given super human abilities in order to protect “rifts” between other versions of earth. Has a strong, independent female main character.
  • Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded by Hannah Hart
  • The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie: Science Fiction/Fantasy with pirates and giant sea creatures! Alo features a strong female main character.
  • The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron: Interesting Science Fiction/Dystopian novel with twists and reveals that keep the reader guessing.
  • Channel Zero (on the SyFy channel): Familiar with the term “creepypasta”? It refers to horror legends that are copy and pasted on the internet. Sort of the online folklore/urban legends of our time. Channel Zero is a 6 part horror anthology and the first season is based on the “Candle Cove” story by Kris Straub. The story centers on adults who as children watched an obscure television show that aired for only two months. The same two months several children were murdered.
  • Christine and the Queens (Music): Heloise Letissier also known as Christine and the Queens is a French singer/songwriter who released her English language self titled album in the states last year. Her melodies and lyrics while catchy, also usually speak to serious subjects like loneliness, feeling different, and the need to express her own desire, which is not often accepted of female performers. She wears only men’s clothes in an attempt to control the male gaze.
  • Podcast: Secrets Crimes and Audiotape has made a 6 episode audio series of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Well acted and produced,l it makes for a somewhat sinister listen.


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