Staff Reads Late March 2020

Book Projector Treble Clef

Subscribe to Staff Reads and other book newsletters.

Mary V.

  • The Babe Ruth Deception by David O Stewart: This book was so boring, I stopped reading half way through it.
  • Woman on the Edge by Samantha M Bailey (Read it on Overdrive): This book was excellent for this author’s debut novel. A woman is standing on a subway platform when a disheveled young woman thrusts her baby into the stranger’s arms, asks her to take care of her baby and jumps to her death in front of an oncoming train.  Witnesses do not corroborate the stranger’s story and she is accused of pushing the young woman because she wanted a baby.
  • Burn Boston Burn by Wayne Miller: This is an arson investigator’s  tale of an arson ring in Boston between 1982 and 1984. This group of arsonists burned over 250 buildings in Boston and surrounding towns before they were stopped. I lived in Boston at the time and have a very limited memory of it. I do remember leaving my condo in the middle of the night and going to my brother’s condo until the next morning. It was a dumpster fire that was mentioned in the book.
  • Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson (Listen to it on Hoopla or Overdrive. Read it on Overdrive) :  An antiquarian bookseller on Beacon Hill wrote a blog listing 8 books which had perfect murders. Now, years later someone is trying to replicate all 8 murders. This book was very entertaining if not very well written.



  • Writers and Lovers by Lily King (Read it on Hoopla or Overdrive.  Listen to it on Overdrive.): I couldn’t put this down. Set in Cambridge, MA in the late 90s, this novel is about a young woman reeling from the death of her mother while trying to make it as a writer. The entire book is beautifully written and the final pages stayed with me for several days after finishing. Ms. King’s other books, including Euphoria, another favorite of mine, are also available via Hoopla
  • The Yellow House by Sarah Broom (Read it on Hoopla or Overdrive) : The story of Ms. Broom’s childhood home, a shotgun house in New Orleans East, this is an incredibly powerful story of one family’s history in an area not found on any tourist map of the Big Easy. There are no schools, hospitals, or grocery stores in this area of the city and many who were displaced during Katrina never returned. I finished this story just before visiting New Orleans and while there got to spend time with a life-long resident of the neighborhood which has no schools, hospitals, or grocery stores. Admittedly, I have a deep interest in all things NOLA-related, but this fascinating and moving story is a must-read for all. 
  • Sheet Pan Suppers Meatless by Raquel Pelzel (Read it on Hoopla): While this may not be an ideal time to try new recipes, this book (as well as Sheet Pan Suppers) is a great resource for all who are now cooking seven days a week. The recipes are easy to follow and easily adaptable with what might be on hand in the pantry. 
  • Sally’s Baking Addiction by Sally McKenney: (Read it on Hoopla): I’ve been following Sally’s blog for several years and many of these yummy desserts are bookmarked and made over and over again. 
  • Fodor’s travel books (Read them on Hoopla): Plan a “when this is over” trip or just enjoy armchair travel with an extensive variety of current editions. 


  • A Well Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler (Listen to it on Hoopla or Overdrive.  Read it on Overdrive): This one had me from the start for one very specific reason: the voice of Alva Vanderbilt. I loved right away her sarcasm, deadpan humor, and ability to see through the strict social constructs of her era. Based on the real life Alva Smith who married into Vanderbilt money to save her family from the poorhouse, this novel brings you into the world of the Gilded Age elite and their eye popping money and lifestyle. WK Vanderbilt has money but no reputation; Alva has reputation but no money – their marriage is a match to meet both their needs. Through Alva, you learn of her interest in architecture, her endless work to win respect for the Vanderbilt name, her empathy for those without means, and her work as a suffragette. She even gets love in the end. A very satisfying read for fans of Jane Austen. 
  • The Light Over London by Julia Kelly (Read it or Listen to it on Overdrive): Yay: Another WWII era novel! Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever tire of immersing myself in this particular era. The answer is apparently not. This novel has 2 time periods – present day and 1941 England. Not surprisingly, I found the WWII story line of Louise Keene, a young woman who joins an anti-aircraft gun unit, more compelling than the present day story of antiques dealer Cara Hargraves. Louise is scrappy and brave and defies her parents and small town to help the war effort and fall in love with someone of her own choosing – a choice that ultimately turns out to be a bad one. Cara’s job is to unravel the story for us while learning about herself along the way. 

John (and family)


  • Sunny by Jason Reynolds (Read or listen to this on Overdrive): This was my favorite of the Track series so far.  Sunny is a great protagonist.  Listen to the audiobook and be treated to an interview with Jason Reynolds and narrator, Guy Lockard talk about the real life “Sunnys” they encountered as children.
  • The Resisters by Gish Jen (Read or listen to this in Overdrive): In the not so distant dystopian future, baseball provides an instrument of rebellion for Gwen and her parents.  A strong sense of place and lots of rapid dialogue.
  • American Street by Ibi Zoboi (Read or listen to this on Hoopla.  Read or listen to this on Overdrive.): Fabiola and her mother are flying from Haiti to live with relatives in Detroit when her mother is detained, forcing Fabiola to go alone to her aunt and cousins’ home.  This was a great own voices book and really brings the reader into Fabiola’s situation.
  • This Side of Home by Renee Watson (Read this on Overdrive) : Maya is entering her senior year as she faces drifting apart from her identical twin sister, her best friend moving away, gentrification, publicity for her school for the wrong reasons, a surprising romance, and a new and misguided principal.  Short chapters make for a quick read, but don’t let the pace fool you.  There are a lot of characters that are well developed and the Portland, OR neighborhood setting is a character itself.
  • The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel (Put a hold on the e-book or audiobook on Overdrive for when it’s released digitally): I’ve been thinking of Emily St. John Mandel, lately, given her last title, Station Eleven, seems strangely relevant, now.  Her latest has a very different premise but is still full of the same beautiful lyrical writing and mysterious and layered characters.  A great read for socially isolating.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, read by Carolyn Seymour (Read or listen to various versions of this on Overdrive.  Read or listen to various version of this on Hoopla.): I’ve been revisiting a lot of classics that I read (or never got around to) via audiobook, and this is my latest.  Seymour’s narration brings the characters alive, especially Mrs. Bennett.  Next up on my read pile are some modern spins on this story, Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin and Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal
  • New Kid by Jerry Craft (Read or listen to this on Hoopla.  Read or listen to this on Overdrive): Charming and realistic graphic novel about Jordan, a budding artist, as he navigates his new private school while being one of the few African-Americans in the school.  His side bars, featuring “Jordan’s” drawings that comment on his situation are equally powerful and hilarious.  I loved this book!
  • Professional Book Nerds Podcast from Overdrive: I mentioned this podcast in a previous “Staff Reads” but I wanted to give them another shout out.  What’s great about these is that they’re always available!  You can listen to them via the Overdrive website or through your Libby by Overdrive app.  Episodes that I’ve downloaded are “Interview with Jasmine Guillory”, “Interview with Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen”, and “The Professional Book Nerds’ Best Books of 2018”.






  • Curb Your Enthusiasm: I have been watching Larry David’s Hilarious Series, Curb Your Enthusiasm Seasons 1-9 Larry’s hijinx make me laugh and I love seeing all of the characters and his fellow comedian friends. If you need to laugh, I recommend this with a great deal of enthusiasm!
  • Weather by Jenny Offill (Read or listen to it on Overdrive): This is a delightful, quirky and witty novel. Jenny Offill knows how to create characters and her writing style is unique, fun and quietly brilliant.
  • The Carol Burnett Show (Listen to Carol Burnett sing on Hoopla): What a delightful show! Very funny. When I was much younger, I watched this show in black and white. I am really enjoying the full color version! Recommended if you like to laugh so hard that your stomach hurts!
  • Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With The Heart Of a Buddha by Tara Brach (Listen to it on Hoopla): Tara Brach is a meditator, a teacher and a psychologist and she has a very compassionate and loving approach that can be useful to anyone.
  • Priceless: Hors De Prix (Watch this on Kanopy): This is a charming romantic comedy about a young woman who longs to be rich and the not rich hotel employee who becomes hopelessly smitten. French with subtitles.
  • Cafe Society: A visually rich romantic comedy about 1930’s Hollywood ‘cafe society’, gangsters, and New York nightclubs. Screenplay and narration by Woody Allen.


  • Emma (2020): Cute comedy. Bill Nighy! I can’t get over the fact the actress playing Emma wasn’t even alive yet back in 1996 when the last one came out, which you can watch on Hoopla
  • The Book of Etta by Meg Elison: Sequel to The Unnamed Midwife, which I LOVED. This one? Kind of boring.
  • A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCright: I feel like the author was inspired by Big Little Lies. It took awhile for me to get into the story, but once I did, I was hooked. 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Cursed Coven: Second in a series of middle grade graphic novels, starring a young Buffy Summers. These are ADORABLE! 
  • The Dark Corners of the Night by Meg Gardiner: Another enjoyable thriller.
  • The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James (Read or listen to it on Overdrive): This was a haunting story about a girl searching for the aunt who disappeared over 30 years ago, told in both perspectives, from the aunt in the eighties, and her niece in the present day as they both work at the same creepy motel. Definitely a satisfying mystery. 
  • Westworld, Season 3
  • American Horror Story, 1984: Are you a fan of American Horror Story? Read about what happens behind the scenes in Hoopla

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment