August 2023

Summer isn’t over yet! Here’s what we’ve enjoyed in the last of the long, summer days.


All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers
A decent mystery/thriller with twists and turns in mostly all the right places. I would have given it a solid 4 out of 5 stars, but then the ending made me feel physically ill. I kind of wish I could scrub this one from my brain. (Dana)

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
This book is about the love story between Celestial and Roy and the sudden twist of fate that changes their lives in an instant. Much of this story is told through the letters they write to each other. Beautifully written and incredibly sad. (Seana)

Blindsight by Peter Watts
A crew of astronauts encounter an alien lifeform so different from humanity that it raises disturbing implications about what it means to be alive. A cosmic horror story that is refreshingly free of H.P. Lovecraft’s influence, it ‘s a good read for anyone who likes their sci-fi to be scary. (Greg)

Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle
My first 5-star read of the year. A young woman has grown up in a town whose economy revolves around a conversion therapy camp. It’s creepy and funny, and perfectly encapsulates the horror that is the reality of conversion therapy. (Ash)

Can We Please Give the Police Department to the Grandmothers by Junauda Petrus, illustrated by Kristen Uroda
I think the title sums it up – a picture books for children and adults to read and talk about. I loved the review by School Library Journal: “A reverie of a book, offering criticism delivered with honey about our current state of affairs. It’s not at all as far-fetched as it sounds”. (Molly)

The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling: A Hardcore, High-flying, No-Holds-Barred History of the One True Sport by Aubrey Sitterson and Chris Moreno
I wasn’t allowed to watch wrestling as a child, but I married someone who is interested in it. This easy to read nonfiction graphic novel has been enlightening on the art of professional wrestling- it’s part theater, part acrobatics, part fighting and 100% fascinating. (Liz)

The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand
This is one of her best yet – thoughtful storyline and more in-depth look at friendships through the year. (Kelly)

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
As Goodreads puts it, “Enter the brutal and elite world of a war college for dragon riders”. This book will have you on the edge of your seat from chapter 1, and has everything from nail biting action to much needed romance. (Karina)

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
This is middle grade fiction. I started reading the first chapter aloud with one of our middle school friends who had to read it this summer for school. I was instantly hooked! (And so was my middle school friend.) (Seana)

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (two reviews)
I found this because it’s the Teen book club pick. It was amazing and made me feel all the feelings. I’m so glad there’s more Filipino American stories out there! (Hazel)

This is Waltham High School’s summer reading selection, but it’s a story that can engage, entertain, and enlighten all ages. It’s brutally honest about the complicated stuff in life, like familial relationships and expectations, trauma and substance use disorders, diaspora, and the amorphous nature of our identity and our perception of the world as we strive to become our best selves. There are also sparks of love, friendship, and humor throughout! All of this AND insights into the ongoing socio-political saga of the Philippines. Patron Saints gives us a gripping insider look at Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte’s “War on Drugs” and how it has dramatically deteriorated human rights for many Filipino citizens today. (Lauren)

The Postcard by Anne Berest, translated by Tina Kover
The size of this book was pretty daunting, but having read it I’m amazed Berest was able to fit this story into only 464 pages. It’s the tale of her family, focusing on the bit starting in Russia in 1919 and ending in France around 1945. The book bounces between that history and present day, when Anne and her mother are investigating who sent a mysterious postcard listing the names of their family who had been killed during the Holocaust. It was hard to read in places, but is an amazing story of survival. (Dana)

Woman of Light by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
Fajardo-Anstine seamlessly weaves through generations and shows us that the past never dies – it just transforms. We are the product of our ancestors, and whether or not their stories were recorded on paper they live on in us – and if we are present enough to listen they will guide us. (Molly)


Babylon Berlin (Netflix)
Babylon Berlin is a gorgeous and graceful neo-noir television series set in Berlin during the Golden Twenties. It’s dark and twisted, but beautiful to look at. The mysterious plot trails a police commissioner who wrestles with shell-shock from his service in WWI and who is committed to investigating and dismantling Berlin’s biggest pornography ring. The story unwinds slowly, and in a delightfully confusing and dramatic way. (Lauren)

Heartstopper (Netflix, based on the graphic novel by Alice Oseman)
Great follow up to season 1 and Ace by Angela Chen makes an appearance! (Hazel)

Lost in Paris (Kanopy)
Fiona is a Canadian librarian who travels to France to visit her 88-year-old aunt who, it turns out, is missing. Hilarity and a whole lot of physical comedy ensue. (Janet)

The Summer I Turned Pretty (Prime Video, based on the book by Jenny Han )
I dont know how many times I said out loud (while watching it!) THIS IS SOO BAD – yet I could not stop watching it… (Elle)

Till tells the story of the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till and the activism of his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley. Incredibly well done and still incredibly relevant. Why this movie and its lead actress weren’t nominated for Oscars is a mystery. It’s really that good. (Janet)

True Detective (Max)
Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, the Louisiana bayou and occult murders? Sign me up! (Liz)
Check out our Max Roku to watch.

What We Do in the Shadows (Hulu)
A funny mockumentary about four vampires living on Staten Island and the poor human servant that has to deal with their crazy ideas. You’ll definitely like it if you like anything by Taika Waititi, and shows filmed like The Office. (Karina)
Check out our Hulu Roku to watch.

You Are So Not Invited To My Bat Mitzvah (Netflix)
Adam Sandler plays a minor role in this film that stars his real-life daughters and wife. I love finding movies that my daughters and I equally enjoy and this is definitely one. Funny, modern, and sweet, it’s a delight. (Amber)


American Heartbreak by Zack Bryan
Given that Zack Bryan is slated to play Gillette next summer (with Jason Isbell opening), I am late to the Zach Bryan party. Better late than never, I am obsessed. (Amber)

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, narrated by the author
This had been on my TBR for quite some time after two years of consistent public praise. I have to say I was rather disappointed in it, not for Michelle’s storytelling (which was very well done), but for the story itself. (Elle)

Finding Me by Viola Davis, narrated by the author
Viola Davis is 1000% a storyteller! Less than ten minutes in I was crying. It’s heartbreaking, uplifting, relatable, hilarious, human. I am so glad I listened to the audiobook version to actually hear her tell her own story. Fun Fact: she won a Grammy for this audiobook narration! Yes – it’s that good. (Elle)

One Life by Megan Rapinoe, narrated by the author
For World Cup season I decided to read more about the people on the US National Team. I love the way Megan Rapinoe tells her story and uses her platform as an athlete for social justice. (Hazel)

The Retrievals (podcast)
This is not specifically a true crime podcast, but the experiences of hundreds of women at a Yale fertility clinic is nothing short of criminal. If binge listening is a thing, then that’s what I did. (Janet)

July 2023

The heat is on with our summertime choices.


Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse; translated by John Bester
I’ve been meaning to read Masuji Ibuse’s sobering and acclaimed novel on the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima for years. With the film Oppenheimer coming out in a few days, I thought this would be a good time to start it as a reminder that the surviving people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had to live with the brutal consequences of Oppenheimer’s creation. (Liz)

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold
The story of Jack the Ripper has long held a macabre fascination for me, but this book blew me away. Rubenhold did an unbelievable amount of research to tell the stories of the women who are believed to be the Ripper’s victims. She also did an amazing job humanizing the women, and making me rethink the way the story has fascinated me. I highly recommend this book. (Dana)

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas
Eh… this was pretty one-note for 95% of the book. Everything happened in the last 20 pages. (Deb)

Lucky Red by Claudia Cravens
Looking for a sapphic western? You won’t be disappointed with this story of an orphan making her own way in the wild west. (Ash)

Moby Dyke: An Obsessive Quest To Track Down the Last Remaining Lesbian Bars in America by Krista Burton
Burton spent a year travelling to the last remaining 20 lesbian bars across across the country to document what’s left. I especially enjoyed reading about her trip to my hometown bar. (Ash)

Night Will Find You by Julia Heaberlin
A young woman returns home to help find a missing girl. With gorgeous words, Heaberlin writes a mystery/thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. (Ash)

Not On Any Map: One Virgin Island, Two Catastrophic Hurricanes, and the True Meaning of Paradise by Margie Smith Holt
So amazing to read an amazing adventure about a place, in the place, I love & visit often. (Deb)

Quietly Hostile by Samantha Irby
I’ve realized that I enjoy essay collections like this, but in moderation. While I loved most of Irby’s essays in this book, I did have to skip a few due to plain old lack of interest. But the best ones made me laugh out loud, which I appreciated. (Dana)

Secret Life: An Adaptation of a Story by Jeff VanderMeer by Theo Ellsworth
Surreal, creepy story paired with mesmerizing, terror-inducing art. Reminiscent of the themes present in the TV show Severance but with an abstract atmosphere that is profoundly unsettling. (Lauren)


A League of Their Own (Amazon Prime)
An endearing adaptation of the modern-classic film A League of Their Own, this series dives into beautiful queer-love themes and war-time foreboding that only briefly shimmers on the surface of the original. The extended one-hour series format gives the audience more time to soak in the period costumes and the tension of the times, with a heavy dose of bad CGI baseball montages! There’s the familiar fun and cartoonish ensemble cast, just as with the original, but in many ways, it’s a more profound and gratifying watch. (Lauren)

Barbie (currently in theaters)
An excellent film about men, the patriarchy, and what it’s like to be a woman on this planet. (Ash)

George and Tammy (Showtime)
Jessica Chastain and Michael Shannon are absolutely incredible as Tammy Wynette and George Jones in this, ultimately, very sad story. (Amber)

George Michael: Freedom (streaming on Paramount+)
This is a bittersweet look at the later period of the singer’s career. I’m not sure I realized at the time how much George Michael fought for an artist’s right to do what they wanted to do, rather than what the record company wanted. Worth watching if for nothing else but the story behind the best music video ever made, Freedom! ’90. (Amber)

The next installment in the Yellowstone origin stories, this series has an extraordinary amount of gratuitous violence. Harrison Ford is woefully miscast as a cowboy; Helen Mirren shines. (Amber)

Wham! (Netflix)
Utterly fun pop candy. (Amber)


Beyond the Story: 10 Year Record of BTS by BTS
Originally announced by the publisher with the title and author hidden and an huge print run planned, my interest was peaked. When the author was announced as the popular K-pop band BTS, I wanted to see what it was all about. Listening to the audiobook has been a glimpse into the competitive K-pop industry and serves as liner notes to the 10 year career of BTS. Would recommend to curious pop culture fans with one warning: it can be a little tricky to follow the audio narrative, since there are extended quotes from interviews and un-introduced song lyrics interspersed throughout. (Kate)

The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Bramer; narrated by Jennifer Pickens
In this novel you’ll meet Clover, who is a death doula in New York City, dedicating her life to ushering people peacefully through their end-of-life process. Interesting and well-written. Good characters. Chuckled a few times, shed a tear or 2. Insightful. (Deb)

Come On Feel the Illinoise by Sufjan Stevens
This album came out 15 years ago, but I’ve been spending a lot of time in my bluetooth-less car lately and wanted to listen to something mellow and familiar from my college days. This album is a 2000s indie classic. (Liz)

The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel; narrated by Madeleine Maby
Where the Crawdads Sing meets The Nightingale. Seem like an odd description? Read it for yourself and see if I’m correct! (Deb)

The Old Woman With the Knife by Gu Byeong-mo; translated into English by Chi-Young Kim; narrated by Nancy Wu
Hornclaw is a “disease control specialist” who fears she may be aging out of her profession. This is a quirky story with violent scenes that are told so matter-of-factly that the gore almost seems comical. (Amber)

Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes; narrated by Daisy Ridley
Wasn’t sure where this story was headed… one of the two main characters was deeply unlikable to start. In the end… a fun adventure with some laugh-out-loud moments. (Deb)

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird by Lisa See; narrated by Ruthie Ann Miles
Lisa See’s novels always immerse the reader in a new culture. This one is historical fiction surrounding hill tribe people of China and their traditions, tea farming and family bonds. Very enjoyable. (Deb)