All posts by Jessica FitzHanso

Variety is the spice of summer!

Thanks to all who joined us last Friday morning for our quarterly live book-share. I hope you found something to read or look forward to! For those that were unable to attend, the list is below. This round, we brought a variety of genres, to help you complete those Summer Reading BINGO boards, and because summer is a great time to experiment with new stories. We have also included some that we know will be favorites soon, and some favorites that our audience suggested. There are a few set during WWII, (The Lost Vintage, Dear Mrs. Bird, Eagle and Crane) but each tells such an intriguing new story from that era. There are some uplifting stories for warm summer days (The Lido, The Late Bloomers Club), and there are thrillers for stormy afternoons (Rough Animals, Providence, Still Lives, The Darkest Time of Night). There are serious novels to spark interesting conversation at your next cookout (Bad Stories, The Poisoned City). There are novels of speculative fiction (The Suicide Club, Tell the Machine Goodnight) and magic (Spinning Silver, Witchmark), great character-driven fiction (The Ensemble, Unsheltered, What We Were Promised), a novel by an author that seems determined to write a great story based on each famous building in Manhattan (The Masterpiece), and many more. Read through the list – which one will make it into your suitcase or beach bag?

Join us for our next meeting on October 19th!

Happy Reading!

 Bad Stories is an effort to make sense of our historical moment. The book argues that bad outcomes arise directly from the bad stories we tell ourselves. Using literature as a lens, Bad Stories explores entertainment, sports, and political parody, the degeneration of our free press into a for-profit industry, and our enduring pathologies of race, class, immigration, and tribalism. Critics are calling it “the feel bad read of the season!”
 The Darkest Time of Night: Investigative journalist for WSMV-TV in Nashville, Jeremy Finley’s debut thriller explores what happens to people’s lives when our world intersects with the unexplainable.
Dear Mrs. Bird: London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort as a volunteer telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When a job is advertised at the London Evening Chronicle, Emmy’s sees her dream of being a Lady War Correspondent coming true. But she winds up as typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Disappointed, she gamely bucks up and buckles down. Prepare to fall head over heels for Emmy and her best friend Bunty in Pearce’s irresistible debut.
Eagle and Crane: Louis Thorn and Haruto “Harry” Yamada the Eagle and the Crane, are the star attractions of a daredevil aerial stunt team that traverses Depression-era California. The young men have a complicated relationship, thanks to the Thorn family’s belief that the Yamadas, Japanese immigrants, stole land from the Thorn family. This tension is inflamed when Louis and Harry are both drawn to the same woman, Ava. After the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor there are changes and harsh realities to face. And when one of the stunt planes crashes with two charred bodies inside, the ensuing investigation struggles when the details don’t add up and no one seems willing to tell the truth.
The Ensemble: I really got into this one. It’s my favorite kind of character driven, coming of age story, about a group of friends, a family really, that go from their graduation through their early adult lives, changing in multitudes along the way. A Cellist herself, her narrative follows four bright young musicians: Jana, Brit, Daniel, and Henry. Each has their own stories but all come together over the projects of the Van Ness String Quartet.. My heart broke over the individual trials of each player, but rejoiced over the companionship they forged through their musicianship. It’s a wonderful coming of age story, like Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings. – Jessica
French Exit: The characters are not necessarily relatable at first, but they grow on you. Suddenly you find yourself looking through their eye, a sort of distorted and disoriented viewpoint.  Forced to give up luxury on the upper east side in NYC for a borrowed apartment in Paris because of overspending in the wake of the patriarch’s death and financial scandal Frances and her son Malcolm must begin a new life. Neither Mother nor son is able to sustain normal society, so their disorientation and required humility provides great comedy to the narrative, and DeWitt is a master at this. Will they come to terms with their new situation  in life, or will they continue on their slow but definite road to ruin? You may be reminded of the shenanigans that populate Wodehouse’s Jeeves series.
From the Corner of the Oval: Against the backdrop of glamour, drama, and intrigue, this is the story of a young woman making unlikely friendships, getting her heart broken, learning what truly matters, and, in the process, discovering her voice
The Last Cruise: Christine, a former journalist turned farmer, Mick, a Hungarian cruise ship chef, and Miriam, an Israeli quartet violinist find themselves thrown together in turmoil as what was supposed to be pleasant retro-cruise turns into a nightmare at sea.
The Late Bloomers Club: A delightful novel about two headstrong sisters, a small town’s efforts to do right by the community, and the power of a lost dog to summon true love.
The Lido: Another one related to civic engagement, but much more tame, The Lido is the story of two women coming together over an unexpected cause. Kate is a young, anxiety ridden reporter in Brixton, outside London, charged with covering the closing of a local community pool, which will be torn down to accommodate more housing development. This is just the latest in a pattern of gentrification for the community. In investigating the history of the pool for the local newspaper she meets the community that greatly values the pool, most especially an 86 year old woman named Rosemary whose relationship with the pool goes back decades. Her life forms the second track of the novel as we learn about how the pool served as a respite for her at different points in her life. Under Rosemary’s influence, Kate changes from a depressed and friendless woman to a person with purpose (to save the pool) and relationships. Similar in storyline to A Man Called Ove, this is a sweet story for an afternoon by the pool.
The Lost Vintage: Sweetbitter meets The Nightingale in this page-turner about a woman who returns to her family’s ancestral vineyard in Burgundy to study for her Master of Wine test, and uncovers a lost diary, a forgotten relative, and a secret her family has been keeping since WWII.
The Masterpiece: Fiona Davis returns with her third historical in 3 years, after 2016’s The Dollhouse and last year’s The Address. In The Masterpiece, Davis once again pairs women across generations in New York City to present the story of famous landmarks and historical periods. The Masterpiece‘s focus is Grand Central Terminal. In 1928, we meet Clara Darden, illustrator and teacher at the art school once housed in the terminal building. In 1974, we meet Virginia Clay, a divorced mother whose lack of skills but ample resourcefulness bring her to an unusual position in the now crumbling train station. Both women exude great strength as their respective cultures aim to push them aside for being women. Davis does a good job with the characters, but an even better job of highlighting some of NYC’s most intriguing stories.
Not Our Kind (Coming in September):  It’s post war Manhattan, and Eleanor Moskowitz is late for a prestigious teaching interview, so she decides to take a cab. When her cab is rear ended and she finds herself simultaneously bloody, desperate for a phone, and ashamed of her appearance, when the perfectly tailored and coiffed Patrica Bellamy, comes to her aid, though second guessing her decision upon learning her passenger’s last name. At Patricia’s Park Avenue Apartment, Eleanor surprisingly befriends Patricia’s  polio-stricken and surly daughter Margeaux. As a result, Eleanor is hired as Margeaux’s tutor, allowing Eleanor access to the world of New York’s 1%. They will simultaneously accept and reject her as a result of the prejudices brewing while America was at war. On the surface, it’s a simple romance, but the defeat of prejudice and the developing relationship between ethnic groups and classes is the real focus of this novel. It’s an important and often overlooked story. – Jessica
The Poisoned City: Through a series of disastrous decisions, the state government had switched the city’s water supply to a source that corroded Flint’s aging lead pipes. Complaints about the foul-smelling water were dismissed: the residents of Flint, mostly poor and African American, were not seen as credible, even in matters of their own lives.
It took eighteen months of activism by city residents and a band of dogged outsiders to force the state to admit that the water was poisonous. By that time, twelve people had died and Flint’s children had suffered irreparable harm. The long battle for accountability and a humane response to this man-made disaster has only just begun.
In the first full account of this American tragedy, The Poisoned City recounts the gripping story of Flint’s poisoned water through the people who caused it, suffered from it, and exposed it. It is a chronicle of one town, but could also be about any American city, all made precarious by the neglect of infrastructure and the erosion of democratic decision making. Places like Flint are set up to fail-and for the people who live and work in them, the consequences can be fatal.
Providence: Providence is known for a few things, but perhaps most notable of all is that it was the final home of the writer H. P. Lovecraft. In her third novel, Caroline Kepnes inserts Lovecraft into a modern day teenage love story to present a captivating and genre-bending page turner. Jon is a quirky kid, loved by no one except Chloe. Their relationship is close, they understand each other in ways others can’t comprehend, and just as Jon is about to suggest a new intensity to their relationship he is kidnapped. Chloe is devastated about his disappearance, but equally about the lack of interest others have for his disappearance. She unravels, but then, as time goes by, picks herself up and assumes the role of a normal teenage girl. Then, 4 years later, Jon reappears, taller, stronger and with a strange intense new power that inadvertently harms and sometimes kills those around him, mysteriously imparted to him by his kidnapper. He must learn to simultaneously keep his physical distance from Chloe and find a way to keep her close. He travels from New Hampshire to Providence, where perfectly healthy people suddenly begin to drop dead and a quirky detective is trying to figure out the pattern. It’s fast-paced, fiercely original and great for adults and young adults, fans of Stranger Things or anyone that loves a good suspenseful mystery. – Jessica
Rough Animals: Breaking Bad meets No Country for Old Men… Ever since their father’s untimely death five years before, Wyatt Smith and his inseparably close twin sister, Lucy, have scraped by alone on their family’s isolated ranch in Box Elder County, Utah. That is until one morning when, just after spotting one of their steers lying dead in the field, Wyatt is hit in the arm by a hail of gunfire that takes four more cattle with it. The shooter: a fever-eyed, fearsome girl-child with a TEC-9 in her left hand and a worn shotgun in her right. They hold the girl captive, but she breaks loose overnight and heads south into the desert. With the dawning realization that the loss of cattle will mean the certain loss of the ranch, Wyatt feels he has no choice but to go after her and somehow find restitution for what’s been lost. Wyatt’s decision sets him on an epic twelve-day odyssey through a nightmarish underworld he only half understands; a world that pitches him not only against the primordial ways of men and the beautiful yet brutally unforgiving landscape, but also against himself. As he winds his way down from the mountains of Box Elder to the mesas of Monument Valley and back, Wyatt is forced to look for the first time at who he is and what he’s capable of, and how those hard truths set him irrevocably apart from the one person he’s ever really known and loved. Steeped in a mythic, wildly alive language of its own, and gripping from the first gunshot to the last, Rough Animals is a tour de force from a powerful new voice.
Spinning Silver: Miryem was brought up in a snowbound village, on the edge of a charmed forest. She comes from a family of moneylenders, but her kind father shirks his work. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, his family faces poverty – until Miryem intercedes. Hardening her heart, she sets out to retrieve what’s owed, and her neighbors soon whisper that she can turn silver into gold. Then an ill-advised boast attracts the cold creatures that haunt the wood. Nothing will be the same again, for words have power. And the challenge she’s issued will change the fate of a kingdom.
Channeling the spirit of the original Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, Naomi Novik has written a rich, multi-layered fantasy about sacrifice, power and love that is a joy to read.
Still Lives: A riveting page-turner and feminist proclamation all in one. Maggie Richter is a copy-editor for the revered, but struggling, modern art museum Rocque in Los Angeles. In an effort to revitalize the museum’s coffers and place back in the center of the LA art scene, they commission the controversial Kim Lord to produce an exhibition of her latest work Still Lives. Lord’s paintings depict the bodies of famous female victims of violent crimes in LA, including The Black Dahlia, Kitty Genovese and Nicole Brown Simpson. Maggie can’t stand them for the way they seem to be exploiting the lives and deaths of these women for publicity. Then, the artist herself fails to appear for her own exhibit’s opening gala, and the artist’s boyfriend, also Maggie’s ex, is the prime suspect. Maggie, and the reader, are then drawn into an investigation that will take them through LA’s glamorous and not-so-glamorous sides. I loved the layers to this book. You have a well-written page turner, a socially conscious set of characters, and a great tour of LA’s history and seedy underworlds. – Jessica
The Suicide Club: A compelling look at a near future world obsessed with the possibility of immortality. Suicide Club specifically addresses our culture’s health obsession by drawing a world in which music and art are discouraged as cortisol inducing behaviors and trading in human organs is the best way to maintain wealth. Lea, at 100 years old, is such a prime product of this culture that she and her well-toned fiance are positioned to be included in the so called 3rd wave, which would extend Lea’s life-expectancy of 300 years to infinity. But someone from her past has resurfaced and is involved in a counter cultural movement. Lea’s connection to this figure and the cause of the underground movement place her under scrutiny from the Ministry and cause her to question her life’s direction. – Jessica
A Terrible Country: When Andrei Kaplan’s older brother Dima insists that Andrei return to Moscow to care for their ailing grandmother, Andrei must take stock of his life in New York. Perhaps a few months in Moscow are just what he needs. So Andrei sublets his room in Brooklyn, packs up his hockey stuff, and moves into the apartment that Stalin himself had given his grandmother, a woman who has outlived her husband and most of her friends. Andrei learns to navigate Putin’s Moscow, still the city of his birth, but with more expensive coffee.  A wise, sensitive novel about Russia, exile, family, love, history and fate, A Terrible County asks what you owe the place you were born, and what it owes you. Writing with grace and humor, Keith Gessen gives us a brilliant and mature novel that is sure to mark him as one of the most talented novelists of his generation.
Unsheltered: Barbara Kingsolver has been writing since her debut in 1988 with the Bean Trees. Since then she has had numerous best-sellers, including The Poisonwood bible, a perennial book club favorite about the travails of a baptist missionary and his family in an unstable African Congo in 1959. In her latest novel, she presents a story of a New Jersey neighborhood and the people residing there, joined over time. The first strain tells the story of Willa Knox, a middle aged freelance journalist living in the dawn of Trump, despairing over her crumbling New Jersey house and her growing caretaker responsibilities, which include her ailing and right-wing father in law, her two fledgling adult children and her son’s newborn baby.The second strain tells the story of a teacher in the 1880s, residing in the same but younger neighborhood of Willa. The teacher, Thatcher Greenwood, struggles to teach the new evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin to a local school body, but is met with great resistance from the community and within his own household. Through beautiful writing and expertly drawn characters, Kingsolver tells the story of two characters, joined in their relative struggles at the edge of cultural upheaval.
What We Were Promised: Set in modern Shanghai, a debut by a Chinese-American writer about a prodigal son whose unexpected return forces his newly wealthy family to confront painful secrets and unfulfilled promises.
Witchmark: In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.
Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family’s interest or to be committed to a witches’ asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans’ hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.
When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.

Your summer holiday reading list!

Happy Summer!

Summer is the perfect time for short stories…OK, I actually think great short stories are perfect for any time of year, but when you only have an hour on the beach or a long-ish lunch outside, short stories can provide the perfect single-sitting escape. On my list below, I’ve included two brilliant collections from award-winning writers Joseph O’Neill (The Dog, Netherland) and Lydia Millet (Love in Infant Monkeys, Sweet Lamb of Heaven). But short doesn’t have to just come in fiction: David Sedaris’ Calypso is an irreverent and hilarious collection of essays pointing out the foibles in himself and those around him, and Michelle Dean has created an invaluable tribute to women of letters in her collection of connected profiles called Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion.

Of course, the majority of this list is made up of our recommendations for great stories of novel length. J. P. Delaney follows his 2017 bestselling psychological thriller The Girl Before with the twisty and disorienting Believe Me. B. A. Shapiro’s 3rd novel, The Collector’s Apprentice, involves art, yes, but also the electric Paris of the 1920’s, populated with all your favorite jazz age writers and artists. Likely the debut of the season, Tommy Orange has penned a brilliant and expansive story of a group of people who come together to participate in a ceremony for myriad reasons and from different backgrounds, hoping to find hope, community and meaning in There, There. Lisa’s also included Anthony Horowitz’s first in a new series, The Word is Murder, a Sherlock Holmes-style mystery that breaks the fourth wall, making the author a character. The second in this series, Another Word for Murder, is due out later this year, so get started soon!

If you need a challenge to keep you going this summer, our Adult Summer Reading BINGO is back! You can pick up a card at the circulation desk of the Main or MacKay branch library, or download and print a card from our website, here. Complete as many challenges as you can, and turn in the card by August 24 to be entered to win one of three prize packs, including Friends of the Library book sale gift certificates, Gift of Chelmsford certificates, literary themed mugs and reading journals.

Finally, mark your calendars to join us for our next live Friday Fiction event, on Friday, July 20 at 10:30AM. We’ll have a great list of titles to accompany you on your late summer vacations (and you can check off a square on your BINGO card for coming!)

Here’s our list:

All We Ever Wanted, by Emily Giffin: Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. Her husband’s tech business is booming, and her son, Finch, is bound for Princeton. Thomas Talone is a single dad working multiple jobs. His daughter, Lila, was recently accepted to Nashville’s most prestigious private high school on a scholarship. Then one devastating photo changes everything. Lila passes out at a party, drunk and half-naked. Finch snaps a picture, types out a caption, and sends it out to a few friends. The photo spreads quickly, and before long, an already divided community takes sides, throws blame, and implodes. And in the midst of it all, Nina and Tom are forced to question all their assumptions about love and loyalty.
Believe Me, by J. P. Delaney: “An unemployed actress works for a divorce lawyer entrapping unsuspecting husbands until she finds herself ensnared in a murder investigation. This roller-coaster ride of a book will keep you guessing with an unreliable narrator and and a twisty plot.”
Linda Quinn, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT 
Black Klansman, by Ron Stallworth: A decorated African-American law enforcement veteran traces his remarkable undercover infiltration of the KKK and how his white partner and he posed as one person, rose in the ranks and sabotaged Klan activities before the investigation’s tragic end.
The Book of M, by Peng Shepherd: In a dangerous near-future world, a group of ordinary people are caught in an extraordinary catastrophe and risk everything to save the ones they love. A first novel which is being compared to The Passage and Station Eleven.
Calypso, by David Sedaris: This is beach reading for people who detest beaches, required reading for those who loathe small talk and love a good tumor joke. Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris’s darkest and warmest book yet–and it just might be his very best.
The Collector’s Apprentice, by B. A. Shapiro: The latest novel from the bestselling author of the Art Forger and The Muralist, Shapiro transports readers to Paris in the 1920s, populated with all the great figures, and weaves an unputdownable story of scandal intrigue and, of course, art.
The Death of Mrs. Westaway, by Ruth Ware: Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an excellent thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.
 Fight No More, by Lydia Millet: In her first story collection since Love in Infant Monkeys, which became a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Lydia Millet explores what it means to be home. With wit and intellect, Millet offers profound insight into human behavior from the ordinary to the bizarre: strong-minded girls are beset by the helpless, myopic executives are tormented by their employees, and beastly men do beastly things.
Fresh off the critical triumph of Sweet Lamb of Heaven (long-listed for the National Book Award), Millet is pioneering a new kind of satire―compassionate toward its victims and hilariously brutal in its depiction of modern American life.
Good Trouble, by Joseph O’Neill: On the surface, these men and women may be in only mild trouble, but in these perfectly made, fiercely modern stories O’Neill reminds us of the real, secretly political consequences of our internal monologues. No writer is more incisive about the strange world we live in now; the laugh-out-loud vulnerability of his people is also fodder for tears.
The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai: A novel set in 1980s Chicago and contemporary Paris follows the director of a Chicago art gallery and a woman looking for her estranged daughter in Paris who both struggle to come to terms with the ways AIDS has affected their lives.

Harry’s Trees, by Jon Cohen: A 38-year old traumatized widower fortuitously meets an 11-year old girl who sets him on a feverish road to redemption.
The High Season, by Judy Blundell: “The ultimate summer read–featuring indelible characters, crackling wit, and sophisticated storytelling–about one season when everything in a woman’s life goes wrong. This is a novel about the dreams and ambitions of youth coming to terms with the realities of middle-age; about the way desperation can make us astonish ourselves; and about how the most disruptive events in our lives can sometimes twist endings into new beginnings”
The Kiss Quotient, by Helen Hoang: A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick. Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old. It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but crave all of the other things he’s making her feel. Their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic.
Little Big Love, by Katy Regan: “A portrait of a family and a boy’s search for the father who left them, told from multiple perspectives with authentic, likeable characters.”
Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis County Library, Austin, TX
The Madonna of the Mountains, by Elise Valmorbida: This epic novel follows the life of a woman in the hardscrabble Italian countryside, from her girlhood through marriage and motherhood through two World Wars and during the Fascist party rule. A sweeping saga about womanhood, religion, loyalty, war, family, motherhood, and marriage, The Madonna of the Mountains is set in Italy during the 1920s to the 1950s, and follows its heroine, Maria Vittoria, from her girlhood through her marriage and motherhood, through the National Fascist Party Rule and ending with her decision to emigrate with her family to Australia.
Mr. Flood’s Last Resort, by Jess Kidd: Maud Drennan – underpaid carer and unintentional psychic – is the latest in a long line of dogsbodies for the ancient, belligerent and hoarding Cathal Flood.

But Maud is this insolent old man’s last chance: if she can help him get his house in order, he might be able to fend off being removed to an old age home. So the unlikely pair begin to cooperate, connecting over their shared love of folk tales and their suspicion of Gabriel, Cathal’s overbearing son. Still, shadows are growing in the cluttered corners of the mansion, hinting at buried family secrets, and reminding Maud that she doesn’t really know this man at all. When she starts poking around, the forgotten case of a missing local schoolgirl comes to light, and a full-steam search for answers begins.

Never Anyone But You, by Rupert Thompson: Fictionalizes the true story of a love affair between two extraordinary women and recreates the surrealist movement in Paris and the horrors of the two world wars.
The Number One Chinese Restaurant, by Lillian Li: The Beijing Duck House in Rockville, Maryland, is not only a beloved go-to setting for hunger pangs and celebrations; it is its own world, inhabited by waiters and kitchen staff who have been fighting, loving, and aging within its walls for decades. When disaster strikes, this working family’s controlled chaos is set loose, forcing each character to confront the conflicts that fast-paced restaurant life has kept at bay
Robin, by Dave Itzkoff: The New York Times culture reporter and author of Mad as Hell presents a compelling portrait of Robin Williams that illuminates his comic brilliance, conflicting emotions and often misunderstood character, sharing insights into the gift for improvisation that shaped his wide range of characters, his struggles with addiction and depression and his relationships with friends and family members.
The Secrets Between Us, by Thrity Umrigar: After being fired from her job as a servant, Bhima forms a partnership with Parvati to sell produce at the local market and makes her first true friend, in a follow up to The Space Between Us.
Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion, by Michelle Dean: The ten brilliant women who are the focus of Sharp came from different backgrounds and had vastly divergent political and artistic opinions. But they all made a significant contribution to the cultural and intellectual history of America and ultimately changed the course of the twentieth century, in spite of the men who often undervalued or dismissed their work.
Southernmost, by Silas House: When an evangelical preacher in Tennessee offers shelter to two gay men after a catastrophic flood, he’s met with resistance by his wife and congregation, and eventually loses custody of his son. He decides to kidnap his son and flee to Key West, where he suspects his estranged gay brother is living.
There There, by Tommy Orange: There There is a relentlessly paced multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. It tells the story of twelve characters, each of whom have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death and has come to work at the powwow to honor his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and unspeakable loss.
 
The Word is Murder, by Anthony Horowitz: A playful commentary on the mystery genre itself and the first in a promising new series. The author, Horowitz, plays the part of the narrator, and gets caught up in solving a murder with Daniel Hawthorne, an out-of-work detective.

Adult Summer Reading Challenge 2018

Now Adults can join in the summer reading fun too!

Adult summer challenge Bingo cards can be downloaded and printed, or you can pick one up at the Circulation or Info Desk on the main floor starting June 4th

Cross off spaces for reading different genres, but also for attending summer programs, downloading music and movies and much more! Turn in your completed card to the Main desk and be entered into a raffle for prizes by August 24!

And if you need reading suggestions, we’re here to help!

Our non-traditional collection is growing!

Summer’s here – time get back on your bike! If your bike has been in storage all winter, it might be time for a tune up. Now you can give your bike the love it needs from home with one of our bike maintenance kits! The Main and MacKay branch libraries now own a complete set of bike mechanic tools that you can check out for a week to keep your bike running smoothly.

Each kit includes:

  • a fold up hex wrench set
  • a chain checker
  • a Mini chain brute chain tool
  • a professional cable & housing cutter
  • Master link plyers
  • a GearClean Brush
  • a home mechanic pedal wrench
  • a Torx compatible L wrench
  • a triple spoke wrench
  • a #2 Phillips screwdriver
  • a patch kit
  • a tire lever set
  • a container of bicycle lubricant
  • a guide to identifying the tools in the kit

All of these tools are contained in a compact, portable toolbox. Come and check out the kit, tune up your ride, then get out on the bike trails! And check out all the unexpected things you can borrow from our expanding library of things here, including a ukulele, puzzles, a telescope and more. Have an idea for something that you think we should lend out? Let us know!

Friday Fiction May book list

It’s outdoor reading season again and we have a great list of books for you this round. No royal romances, but I am certain we have had enough of that for a while anyway. Instead, we have a great list of fiction and nonfiction covering a diverse list of topics: novels as pleas for environmental conservation from Richard Powers and Johanna Drucker; the-Odyssey-you-thought-you-knew in Madeleine Miller’s magical novel Circe; another take on the Anastasia Romanov mystery in I was Anastasia; a story of love and money set in post-war New England from Beatriz Williams; and World War II – because we will never finish being fascinated by that era – in Michael Ondaatje’s new novel Warlight. For when you only have a brief chance to chill, we have some great new short story collections from Lauren Groff (Fates and Furies) and Curtis Sittenfeld (Prep, Eligible).

But overall, my favorite on this list is The Mars Room from Rachel Kushner (The Flamethrowers.) Kushner pens a dark and poignant novel about an unjustly imprisoned young woman, who must use the limited resources she has to fight a system seemingly bent on keeping her from her home and son. Kushner’s heavy research into the world of women behind bars in California creates an atmosphere that cuts through any hesitation on the part of the reader. It’s a thrilling book.

There are many more on the list, so read through below. As always, if you need any more recommendations, please don’t hesitate to contact our librarians through the BookWise service, or just stop in to chat sometime.

Stay tuned for CPL’s annual Adult Summer Reading Challenge starting in June, and happy reading!

Jess’s Picks:

Circe, by Madeline Miller:
A highly anticipated follow-up to the award-winning The Song of Achilles follows the banished witch daughter of Titans as she hones her powers and interacts with famous mythological beings before a conflict with one of the most vengeful Olympians forces her to choose between the worlds of the gods and mortals.
 Florida, by Lauren Groff: A collection of short stories by the bestselling author of Fates and Furies and Arcadia.
 The Girl Who Smiled Beads, by Clemantine Wamariya: Traces the author’s harrowing experiences as a young child during the Rwanda massacres and displacements, which separated her from her parents and forced the author and her older sister to endure six years as refugees in seven countries, foraging for survival and encountering unexpected acts of cruelty and kindness before she was granted asylum in a profoundly different America.
 I Was Anastasia, by Ariel Lawhon: An evocative retelling of the Anastasia survival myth follows the appearance of a traumatized, badly scarred young woman who claims to be the youngest Romanov daughter, launching a half-century of questions, accusations and changing perspectives on identity as conveyed by her supporters and detractors. By the author of Flight of Dreams
 The Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner: It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.
 Motherhood, by Sheila Heti: “Sheila Heti has a way of tapping into the throes of consciousness and coming out with a precisely articulated version of how we think. Her new book, Motherhood, delves deep into the decision of whether or not to have children, while simultaneously exploring femininity, identity, and self purpose. Even if motherhood is not pertinent to your life, this book will shed light on our culture and the expectations that are bound to affect everyone at some point.” — Courtney Flynn, Trident Booksellers & Cafe, Boston, MA
 The Only Story, by Julian Barnes: A man who ran away as a teen university student with a married woman more than twice his age reflects on how they fell in love, how he freed her from a sterile marriage and how their relationship fell apart as she succumbed to depression. By the award-winning author of The Sense of an Ending
  The Overstory, by Richard Powers: A National Book Award-winning author presents an impassioned novel of activism and natural-world power that is comprised of interlocking fables about nine remarkable strangers who are summoned in different ways by trees for an ultimate, brutal stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest.
  The Summer Wives, by Beatriz Williams: Secrets and lies hold the island together. But this summer, everything will fall apart…It’s 1951 and Miranda’s mother has just married in to one of the wealthiest families on Winthrop Island, a glamorous haven set off the New England coast.But beneath the surface, the island is a delicate balance of tension between the wealthy summer families who holiday there and the Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers who keep the island going.As Miranda begins to fall for Joseph, the lighthouse keeper’s handsome son, the tension rises inexorably to the surface and an explosive end to the summer will change everyone, forever…
 Warlight, by Michael Ondaatje: In a narrative as beguiling and mysterious as memory itself – shadowed and luminous at once – we read the story of fourteen-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, just after World War II, they stay behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and they grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women joined by a shared history of unspecified service during the war, all of whom seem, in some way, determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. But are they really what and who they claim to be? And what does it mean when the siblings’ mother returns after months of silence without their father, explaining nothing, excusing nothing? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all that he didn’t know and understand in that time, and it is this journey -through facts, recollection, and imagination – that he narrates in this masterwork from one of the great writers of our time.
 You Think it, I’ll Say It, by Curtis Sittenfeld: The best-selling author of Eligible presents a collection of 10 short stories that features both original pieces and two previously published in the New Yorker, including “The World Has Many Butterflies,” in which married acquaintances play a strangely intimate game, with devastating consequences
Lisa’s Picks:
 Beautiful Music, by Michael Zadoorian:  A funny, poignant, thoughtfully rendered novel about love, fear, death, race, music, and the intense passions of youth.  Danny Yzemski is a husky, pop radio-loving loner balancing a dysfunctional homelife with the sudden harsh realities of freshman year at a high school marked by racial turbulence.
Big Guns, by Steve Israel: In response to efforts to ban handguns in America’s cities, the CEO of an arms company, worried about his bottom line, introduces federal legislation that would require every American own a gun.
 The Death of Mrs. Westaway: After erroneously receiving a mysterious letter about a large inheritance, Hal attends the deceased’s funeral and realizes that something is very, very wrong.
 Down Drift: An eco-fiction, by Johanna Drucker: Slowly at first, then with increasing speed, animals worldwide develop and surpass human skills in every field, from manual labor to theoretical thinking, with earth-shattering consequences for the future of humanity.
My Ex-Life, by Stephen McCauley: With My Ex-Life, a heartwarming comedy of manners about second chances and starting afresh, he has pretty much outdone himself…McCauley fires off witticisms like a tennis ace practicing serves…In the vein of inveterate beguilers like Laurie Colwin, Elinor Lipman, and Maria Semple, McCauley is warm but snappy, light but smart—and just plain enjoyable.
My Mother’s Son, by David Hirshberg: My Mother’s Son is a riveting coming-of-age story that plays out against the backdrop of the Korean War, the aftermath of the Holocaust, the polio epidemic, the relocation of a baseball team, and the shenanigans of politicians and businessmen.
No Ashes in the Fire, by Darnell L. Moore: The editor-at-large of CASSIUS and original Black Lives Matter organizer describes his own direct experiences with prejudice, violence and repression; his search for intimacy in the gay neighborhoods of his youth and his participation in key civil movements where he found his calling as an advocate on behalf of society’s marginalized people.
No One Ever Asked, by Katie Ganshert: The absorbtion of an impoverished school district by the affluent community of Crystal Ridge brings three women together as tensions rise, leading to an unforeseen event that impacts them all.
On Brassard’s Farm, by Daniel Hecht: In a radical departure from her urban life, Ann Turner buys a piece of remote Vermont land and sets up a tent home in deep forest. She’s trying to escape an unending string of personal disasters in Boston; more, she desperately wants to leave behind a world she sees as increasingly defined by consumerism, hypocrisy, and division.As she writes in her journal, “There’s got to be a more honest, less divided way to live.”She soon learns she was mistaken in thinking a kindly Mother Earth would grant her wisdom and serenity in her new home
 The Optimistic Decade, by Heather Abel: This novel about a utopian camp and its charismatic leader takes us into the lives of five unforgettable characters, and is a sweeping saga of idealism, love, class, and a piece of land that changes everyone who lives on it.
 The Oracle Year, by Charles Soule: Awakening from a dream with 108 predictions about the future in his head, an unassuming Manhattan bassist catapults to one of the world’s most powerful men and hides his identity behind an online persona that is targeted by greedy corporations and dangerous enemies who would change the playing field by recruiting or eliminating him.
 Our Story: A memoir of love and life in China, by Rao Pingru: An elderly Chinese man recounts his life and marriage in text and art, from meeting the woman his father had arranged for him to wed, through their time together and the twenty-two years they were kept apart while he was a prisoner, to her death.
 The Storm, by Anif Anwar: From an immensely talented new voice in international fiction, a sweeping tour de force that seamlessly interweaves five love stories that, together, chronicle sixty years of Bangladeshi history.
 That Kind of Mother, by Rumaan Alam: Overwhelmed by new motherhood in spite of her love for her infant son, Rebecca, a white woman, asks a kind black woman, Priscilla, to become her family’s nanny, only to have her perspectives changed about her own life of privilege, a situation that compels her to take on unanticipated challenges in the aftermath of a tragedy.
 Tin Man, by Sarah Winman: Shortlisted for the Costa Novel of the Year Award, a heartbreaking celebration of love in all its forms gradually reveals a fallout between two longtime friends and Oxford students over the course of a decade marked by the marriage of one and the disappearance of the other.

Great new books for Spring!

 

(It’s coming!)

If all these snow days have left your TBR list a little short, never fear – we’re here with a great new list of books to build it back up again!

One of my favorites, Peter Swanson (The Girl with a Clock for a Heart), returns with his latest Highsmith-infused suspense thriller, All the Beautiful Lies. For fans of quirky puzzle mysteries a la Mr. Penumbra or Haruki Murakami there’s Nova Jacobs’ The Last Equation of Isaac Severy. For historicals this round we have All the Beautiful Girls, a glamorous drama set in 1960’s Vegas, although fans of the The Light Between Oceans (M. L. Stedman) should pick up As Bright As Heaven, set in post-WWI Philadelphia during the Spanish Flu epidemic. Years ago, I laughed and cried over Jonathan Miles’ brilliant little novel Dear American Airlines, so I’m really excited to read his latest, Anatomy of a Miracle, an hilarious and heartbreaking story of an Afghanistan War-veteran that spontaneously regains the ability to walk. And of course, we have included the latest from perennial favorites, Melanie Benjamin (The Aviator’s Wife) Chris Bohjalian (The Sandcastle Girls) Peter Carey (Crimson Petal and the White) and Amy Bloom (Away), as well as many great debuts, such as Chelsey Johnson’s Stray City, a different, sweet, engaging sort of coming of age story that is really well-written.

Don’t forget to join Lisa and I for our next live Friday Fiction presentation on April 20 at 10:30 AM. We’ll have lots of great new titles to get you through to summer! In the meantime, let us know if we can suggest anything else, and keep us posted about what you’re reading!

Jess’s Picks:

All the Beautiful Lies, by Peter Swanson: Devastated when his father commits suicide days before his college graduation, Harry returns to his home in Maine, where he is baffled by the increasingly sensual attentions of a mysterious woman and his own alluring stepmother, who he comes to realize are hiding dangerous secrets.
All the Beautiful Girls, by Elizabeth Church: A spirited young woman fights the demons of her past by becoming a dancer in 1960s Las Vegas, where her sensual beauty leads to her work in glamorous productions and a consuming affair with a fiery photographer.
Anatomy of a Miracle, by Jonathan Miles: Confined to a wheelchair after a paralyzing injury, an Afghanistan War veteran endures a hardscrabble existence in his sister’s ramshackle Mississippi home before spontaneously regaining his ability to walk, an apparent miracle that subjects him to scientific and religious debates and exposes his most private secrets.
Census, by Jesse Ball: Learning that he does not have long to live and will need to figure out how to provide for his developmentally disabled adult son, a widower signs up as a census taker for a mysterious government bureau and leaves town with his son on a cross-country journey of memories and revelations.
Freshwater, by Akwaeke Emezi: Traces the experiences of a deeply troubled young woman who alarms her devout Nigerian family as she succumbs to multiple personality disorder and begins to display increasingly dark and dangerous traits in accordance with her fractured personalities.
The Girls in the Picture, by Melanie Benjamin: An intimate reimagining of the powerful creative partnership between Hollywood superstars Frances Marion and Mary Pickford traces their friendship and boundary-breaking achievements against a backdrop of pre-World War I Hollywood.
In Every Moment We are Still Alive, by Tom Malmquist: Tom tries to raise his newborn baby daughter by himself after the sudden death of his wife from acute Leukemia right after she gave birth.
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy, by Nova Jacobs: Receiving a cryptic letter from her famous mathematician grandfather just before his suicide, adopted granddaughter Hazel, the owner of a struggling bookstore in Seattle, is charged with tracking down and protecting a dangerous equation before dangerous enemies can exploit it.
A Long Way From Home, by Peter Carey: The award-winning author of Amnesia finds a speed-loving woman, her car salesman husband and a thrill-seeking quiz-show champion entering a dangerous race that circumnavigates the natural obstacles of 1954 Australia.
My Lady’s Crossing, by Kitty Curran: A choose-your-own-adventure romance with Jane Austen flair. You are a spirited but penniless heroine in eighteenth-century society and courtship season has begun. Go!
Stray City, by Chelsea Johnson: Building a home for herself in the thriving but insular lesbian underground of Portland away from her Midwestern Catholic childhood, a young artist becomes unexpectedly pregnant after a reckless night and is forced to come to terms with her past a decade later when her precocious daughter asks about her father.
Lisa’s Picks:
As Bright as Heaven, by Susan Meissner:  The award-winning author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean presents a tale set in 1918 Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic and traces the experiences of a family reeling from the losses of loved ones and changes in their adopted city, a situation that is further shaped by their decision to take in an orphaned infant.
The Flight Attendant, by Chris Bohjalian: A binge-drinking flight attendant wakes up in an unfamiliar hotel room beside a dead body and sneaks back to her work, telling a series of lies that complicate her ability to figure out what really happened. By the best-selling author of Midwives.
Girls Burn Brighter, by Shobha Rao: Forging a deep friendship with impoverished but passionate fellow weaver Savitha, motherless Poornima begins to reconnect with the beauty of the world before a devastating act of cruelty drives her friend away, compelling her to leave behind everything she knows to search for her friend in the darkest corners of India’s underworld and beyond.
The Gone World, by Tom Sweterlisch: Time-travel secret agent Shannon Moss visits future time periods for clues about a Navy SEAL astronaut’s murdered family and the disappearance of his teenage daughter, a case that is complicated by the SEAL’s and Shannon’s own impact on the timeline.
Happiness, by Aminatta Forna: An American scientist and a Ghanaian psychologist become unlikely partners and friends during a search for a missing child that challenges their perspectives on their careers and happiness.
How to Stop Time, by Matt Haig: A man with a secret rare condition that has enabled him to survive for centuries moves to London to become a high-school history teacher and considers defying his protective guardians’ rule against falling in love when he becomes entranced by a captivating colleague. By the best-selling author of Reasons to Stay Alive.
The Monk of Mokha, by Dave Eggers: The best-selling author of The Circle traces his upbringing as a Yemeni-American in San Francisco and his dream of resurrecting the ancient art of cultivating, roasting and importing Yemeni coffee, an endeavor that is challenged by the brutal realities of Yemen’s 2015 civil war.
Need to Know, by Karen Cleveland: A dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover the leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the United States stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents before facing an impossible choice that tests her loyalties to the agency and her own family.
The Queen of Hearts, by Kimmery Martin: Two doctors who have been best friends since early adulthood find their bond tested by the return of a former colleague who unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years.
The Which Way Tree, by Elizabeth Crook: Surviving a panther attack that kills her mother and leaves her with scars, a tenacious young woman resolves to find and kill the unusually aggressive cat with the assistance of a charismatic Mexican American, a haunted preacher, her traumatized half-brother and an old hunting dog. By the award-winning author of The Night Journal.
White Houses, by Amy Bloom: A New York Times best-selling author presents a novel inspired by the life of Lorena Hickok, and by her love affair and enduring friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
The Widows of Malabar Hill, by Sujata Massey: A debut entry in a new series by the Agatha Award-winning author of The Sleeping Dictionary introduces Bombay’s first female lawyer, Oxford graduate Perveen Mistry, as she investigates a suspicious will on behalf of three Muslim widows living in strict purdah seclusion who become subject to a murderous guardian’s schemes for their inheritances.

Kristin Hannah is coming to Chelmsford Feb. 9th!

Join us as we welcome Kristin Hannah, author of our 2018 One Book Chelmsford selection, The Nightingale, on Friday, February 9th, at 7pm at the Chelmsford High School’s Performing Arts Center. Tickets are not required, but please register to let us know you’re coming!

She will be interviewed live onstage by prize-winning author and journalist Hank Phillippi Ryan about The Nightingale and her newly-published The Great Alone, already being hailed as one of 2018’s must reads. If you’d like to have one of your questions asked during the event, email it to vturcotte@chelmsfordlibrary.org. The Andover Bookstore will be on hand after the event selling Ms. Hannah’s and Ms. Ryan’s books.

You won’t want to miss this great event!

 

And if you’ve already read The Nightingale, check out this list of books to read next!

Books to read after reading The Nightingale

Whether you are looking for stirring, real-life accounts of the strength and courage of women during WWII, or would like to read a sweeping historical novel like Kristin Hannah’s bestseller, this list will provide you with a great book to pick up next:

Nonfiction:

   The Unwomanly Face of War, by Svetlana Aleksievich: In this classic work of journalism, Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexiavitch relays the first hand oral accounts of women on the front lines, on the home front, and in occupied territories during WWII.
Behind Enemy Lines by Martha Cohn: Tells the courageous, true story of a young Jewish woman living in France during the German occupation who joined the French military to pose as a German Nurse and obtain valuable information for the Allied forces.
Marianne in Chains, by Robert Gildea: The author relays first hand accounts of daily-life and daily struggle in German occupied France, just as Kristin Hannah depicted in the struggles in Vianne’s Carriveau.
Resistance, by Agnes Humbert: A courageous and painful first-hand account of one of the brave women that joined the resistance during the German occupation of France, as Isabelle did in The Nightingale.
A Train in Winter, by Caroline Moorhead: A poignant collection of interviews and primary sources uncovering the dark but hopeful history of the female resistors in German-occupied France. they hailed from all over France from many different backgrounds and occupations, but all were united in their hatred and defiance of the occupiers. A remarkable celebration of the power of female friendship and conviction.

Fiction:

The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diane Ackerman: A New York Times Bestseller, The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the story of the Zabinski family, polish zookeepers, who, after their animals have been killed at the hands of the German occupying forces, begin to house Jews in the depths of the Zoo to keep them from being deported or killed. This is a brave and thrilling story.
All the Light There Was, by Nancy Kricorian: A moving story of an Armenian Family in Paris at the height of the German occupation, it depicts the gathering of provisions, and the children’s active resistance to the occupying forces, amidst the ever-increasing urgency of their situation.
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr: A beautiful, atmospheric story of love and loss in World War II France. A blind young woman falls in love with a German boy amidst the devastation of the Nazi occupation of France.
The Kites, by Romain Gary: Inspired by the author’s own experiences in the French resistance, The Kites tells the story of a young boy in Normandy thrust by his love for a Polish girl to resist the German forces that have disappeared her family.  This novel was originally published in 1980, but has been published in English by award-winning translator Miranda Richmond Mouillot in 2017 for the first time.
The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah: At once an epic story of human survival and love, and an intimate portrait of a family tested beyond endurance, The Great Alone offers a glimpse into a vanishing way of life in America. With her trademark combination of elegant prose and deeply drawn characters, Kristin Hannah has delivered an enormously powerful story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the remarkable and enduring strength of women. About the highest stakes a family can face and the bonds that can tear a community apart, this is a novel as spectacular and powerful as Alaska itself. It is the finest example of Kristin Hannah’s ability to weave together the deeply personal with the universal.
Suite Francaise by Irina Nemirovsky: A moving and poignant account of a cast of French people fighting for survival in myriad ways (scrounging for provisions, resisting, collaborating) during the occupation of France beginning in 1940. The author, herself a french citizen and a Jewish woman, was deported to the camps in Germany where she died before completing all three parts of the novel. Her daughters saved the two parts she had completed, and published her novel forty years later.
Beneath a Scarlet Sky, by Mark Sullivan: Set in Italy during the German’s fight for control of Italy, This riveting novel tells the story of Pino, a young boy who is conscripted by the German forces to be a driver for one of Hitler’s top Generals. As he gains loyalty in his position, he becomes a spy reporting back activities to the Allied forces.

Chelmsford Staff’s picks for best of 2017!

There’s always room for one more Best of the Year list – especially if that list is made up of picks from your favorite librarians! Here is a list of fiction, nonfiction, audio and video that kept us going last year – there are favorites here for everyone! If you need more recommendations for your TBR list, contact us anytime through our Bookwise service!

Supriya:The Great Gatsby brilliantly recast in the contemporary South: a powerful first novel about an extended African-American family and their colliding visions of the American Dream.  Jeff: Presents a true account of the early twentieth-century murders of dozens of wealthy Osage and law-enforcement officials, citing the contributions and missteps of a fledgling FBI that eventually uncovered one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. Lisa: As World War I raged across the globe, hundreds of young women toiled away at the radium-dial factories, where they painted clock faces with a mysterious new substance called radium. Assured by their bosses that the luminous material was safe, the women themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered from head to toe with the glowing dust. With such a coveted job, these "shining girls" were considered the luckiest alive--until they began to fall mysteriously ill. As the fatal poison of the radium took hold, they found themselves embroiled in one of America's biggest scandals and a groundbreaking battle for workers' rights. The Radium Girls explores the strength of extraordinary women in the face of almost impossible circumstances and the astonishing legacy they left behind. Diane: "Charles Dickens is not feeling the Christmas spirit. His newest book is an utter flop, the critics have turned against him, relatives near and far hound him for money. While his wife plans a lavish holiday party for their ever-expanding family and circle of friends, Dickens has visions of the poor house. But when his publishers try to blackmail him into writing a Christmas book to save them all from financial ruin, he refuses ... On one of his long night walks, in a once-beloved square, he meets the mysterious Eleanor Lovejoy, who might be just the muse he needs"
Donna:"Some women get everything. Some women get everything they deserve. Amber Patterson is fed up. She's tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more--a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted. To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne--a socialite and philanthropist--and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale. Amber's envy could eat her alive...if she didn't have a plan. Amber uses Daphne's compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family's life--the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne's closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces. With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent."   Donna's Pick - In the Midst of Winter, by Isabel Allende: "Exploring the timely issues of human rights and the plight of immigrants and refugees, the book recalls Allende’s landmark novel The House of the Spirits in the way it embraces the cause of “humanity, and it does so with passion, humor, and wisdom that transcend politics” (Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post). Eileen: Goodbye, Vitamin is the wry, beautifully observed story of a woman at a crossroads, as Ruth and her friends attempt to shore up her father's career; she and her mother obsess over the ambiguous health benefits - in the absence of a cure - of dried jellyfish supplements and vitamin pills; and they all try to forge a new relationship with the brilliant, childlike, irascible man her father has become. (From Goodreads)  

This was one of Eileen's favorites from last year: Mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller and a wealth of detail about organized crime, the merchant marine and the clash of classes in New York, Egan’s first historical novel is a masterpiece, a deft, startling, intimate exploration of a transformative moment in the lives of women and men, America and the world. Manhattan Beach is a magnificent novel by one of the greatest writers of our time.

Danny:The Powder Mage Trilogy, Brian McClellan - Danny says: "There are three books in this series (and he’s writing more in that world): Promise of Blood, The Crimson Campaign, and The Autumn Republic. These books are (annoyingly) compulsively readable. I say annoyingly, because it was hard to function between reading sessions. The magic system is intriguing, with a whole group of people who have an affinity for black powder, and can do all sorts of interesting trick shots, such as shooting a bullet without a gun, or shooting two bullets at once from the same gun accurately. Mystery, war, intrigue, these books have almost all of it at some point. There are so many moments in these books that are just downright satisfying." (Book 1 of the trilogy pictured here)  

The Lightbringer - Danny says: "There are 5 books with book 5 releasing this year: The Black Prism, The Blinding Knife, The Broken Eye, The Blood Mirror, and The Burning White. A word of warning, the first book is a slow starter, but once this series gets going it does not slow down for a minute. The cast is seriously awesome, the intricacies of individual characters and how they interact are complex and interesting. Everything is an onion in these books, you just have to keep peeling back another layer. Couple that with a stellar magic system based on wavelengths of light and it’s a real winner…except the beginning of that first book. (Book 1 pictured)

                          The Shadow Campaigns - Danny says: "There are five books in this series (book five releases on January 9th!): The Thousand Names, The Shadow Throne, The Price of Valor, Guns of Empire, and The Infernal Battalion. This fantasy world takes heavy inspiration from the Napoleonic wars and corresponding historical era, including the types of weapons and military tactics. The Thousand Names skews more towards military fantasy, while the Shadow Throne skews more towards political fantasy (though not lacking in action during a pseudo-French revolution). Later books blend those together. The quality is consistent throughout, and I was hard pressed to put these books down."                                The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison - Danny says: "First and foremost, this book is character driven. There’s something very sweet and human about the personal elements in this book. It’s not action packed. The plot centers around the mystery of the king’s death and the intrigue that accompanies his exiled, unwanted, half-goblin son taking over the throne."
Becky:Becky's Pick - One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel: "The three of them—a twelve-year-old boy, his older brother, their father—have won the war: the father’s term for his bitter divorce and custody battle. They leave their Kansas home and drive through the night to Albuquerque, eager to begin again, united by the thrilling possibility of carving out a new life together. The boys go to school, join basketball teams, make friends. Meanwhile their father works from home, smoking cheap cigars to hide another smell. But soon the little missteps—the dead-eyed absentmindedness, the late night noises, the comings and goings of increasingly odd characters—become sinister, and the boys find themselves watching their father change, grow erratic, then violent." (from the publisher)   "Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father. Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her."   Where Should We Begin takes you into the antechamber of our most intimate moments so that we might learn, explore, and experience alongside the couples who have been gracious enough to let us in.  A federal agent tracks four people who suddenly seem to possess entirely new personalities, leading to a startling discovery about humanity's future.
Sara: In the aftermath of a war between gods and men, a hero, a librarian, and a girl must battle the fantastical elements of a mysterious city stripped of its name.                             Despite his aversion to war, work, and most people (human or otherwise), teenaged Elliott, a human transported to a fantasy world where he attends a school for warriors and diplomatic advisers, finds that two unlikely ideas, friendship and world peace, may actually be possbile.                                 Feyre returns to the Spring Court on a reconaissance mission about the invading king. As a spy, the future of the entire kingdom may rely on her ability to play her part perfectly, and her decisions about who to trust and which allies are best will decide the outcome of the coming war.                              An aroma expert embarks on what she fears will be a life of solitude and dreams of a normal high school existence before an accident leads to an unexpected forbidden romance. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, Mimosa knows her future holds a lifetime of using her sense of smell to mix base notes, top notes, and heart notes into elixirs that help others fall in love-- while she remains alone. Mimosa dreams of a normal high school existence and having a boyfriend, but falling in love would take away her talent. When she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman, she must rely on the high school soccer star for help... and discovers that sometimes falling in love isn't a choice....
When her perfectly planned summer of quality time with her parents, her serious boyfriend, and her Bible camp unravels and long-hidden family secrets emerge, Lucy must figure out what she is made of and what grace really means.  After witnessing her friend's death at the hands of a police officer, Starr Carter's life is complicated when the police and a local drug lord try to intimidate her in an effort to learn what happened the night Kahlil died.  "Pay close attention and you might solve this. On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them." Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she's worked for begins to crumble.
A year after his mother disappeared in her hot air balloon, Seraphin and his father receive a clue that sends them to a Bavarian castle where lurks a force that would stop at nothing to conquer the stars.  Teenagers Rachel and Henry find their way back to each other while working in an old bookstore full of secrets and crushes, love letters and memories, grief and hope.
Vickie: In 1986, twenty-year-old Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the woods. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even in winter, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store food and water, to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothes, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed, but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of the why and how of his secluded life--as well as the challenges he has faced returning to the world. A riveting story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded                  Roxane Gay addresses the experience of living in a body that she calls 'wildly undisciplined.' She casts an insightful and critical eye over her childhood, teens, and twenties -- including the devastating act of violence that was a turning point at age 12 -- and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains, and joys of her daily life. With candor, vulnerability, and authority, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen.  Mike:The veteran journalist exposes the practices of opposition research to reveal how political leaders use their influence to shape public opinion, connecting popular misconceptions to strategic smear campaigns that have influenced voters.  Charlene: It's 1947 and American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She's also nursing a fervent belief that her beloved French cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive somewhere. So when Charlie's family banishes her to Europe to have her "little problem" take care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister. In 1915, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance to serve when she's recruited to work as a spy for the English. Sent into enemy-occupied France during The Great War, she's trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the "Queen of Spies", who manages a vast network of secret agents, right under the enemy's nose. Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn't heard in decades, and launching them both on a mission to find the truth ... no matter where it leads
Christine:Dauer recounts how she found Sadie while donating blankets to a no-kill shelter. Sadie had been found in the mountains of Kentucky with a bullet hole between her eyes and one in her back-- put there after she had a litter of puppies and left to die. Strangers found her and took her to a veterinarian; Sadie's back legs were paralyzed, and the prognosis was grim. Dauer explains how Sadie's life-- and her own-- was transformed through unconditional love and second chances.                    Eric O'Grey was 150 pounds overweight, depressed, and sick. After a lifetime of failed diet attempts, and the onset of type 2 diabetes, O'Grey went to a new doctor, who surprisingly prescribed a shelter dog. And that's when O'Grey met Peety: an overweight, middle-aged, and forgotten dog who, like O'Grey, had seen better days. The two adopted each other and began an incredible journey, forming a bond of unconditional love that forever changed their lives. Over the course of their first year together, O'Grey lost 150 pounds, and Peety lost 25. As a result, O'Grey reversed his diabetes, got off all medication, and became happy and healthy for the first time in his life. He started dating after being alone for fifteen years--and eventually reconnected with the long-lost love of his life. And Peety? His affection would lead the way on the doggie adventure of a lifetime.                                    A sports journalist relates the story of Ivy League freshman and track star Maddy Holleran, who seemingly had it all and succeeded at everything she tried, but who secretly grappled with mental illness before taking her own life during the spring semester.                        A coming-of-age memoir by a young woman who was Jackie Kennedy's personal assistant and sometime nanny for thirteen years describes her witness to significant historical events and the lessons about life and love she learned from the beloved First Lady.
Courtney:Stretching from the tribal wars of Ghana to slavery and Civil War in America, from the coal mines in the north to the Great Migration to the streets of 20th century Harlem, Yaa Gyasi's has written a modern masterpiece, a novel that moves through histories and geographies and--with outstanding economy and force--captures the troubled spirit of our own nation   Presents a literary memoir of poems, essays, and intimate family photos that reflect on the author's complicated relationship with his mother and his disadvantaged childhood on a Native American reservation.   Birds of all feathers flock together in a fun, rhyme-filled offering by the creator of Maisy.
Lyndsey:Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she's thinking. That, combined with her unusual appearance (scarred cheek, tendency to wear the same clothes year in, year out), means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kind of friends who rescue each other from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond's big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one   Told in mesmerizing prose, with charm and rhythm entirely its own, Castle of Water is more than just a reimagining of the classic castaway story. It is a stirring reflection on love's restorative potential, as well as a poignant reminder that home--be it a flat in Paris, a New York apartment, or a desolate atoll a world away--is where the heart is   Eleven-year-old Alex Petroski, along with his dog, Carl Sagan, makes big discoveries about his family on a road trip and he records it all on a golden iPod he intends to launch into space
Jessica:Jess: Women with a biological ability to emit electic shocks and turn centuries of female oppression on it's head! This thrilling, immensly original and fantastically written novel by Naoimi Alderman has to be your next book. It's in the vein of Margaret Atwood and Ursula Le Guin, both of whom informed her writing, and great for anyone looking for an entertaining, literary-sci-fi mediatation on history and the stories we tell ourselves to support the status quo.   Jessica: "This epic, atmospheric love story set during WWII in German-occupied France and then Germany tells the story of two sisters: one who jumps into the resistance at the first chance, risking her life and love, and one more reluctantly drawn in as the threats to he family and friends increase. It's a thrilling, enduring tale, based on true events, and it's our OneBook Chelmsford selection for 2018!"   A fantastic puzzle within a puzzle, a great layered mystery with well-drawn, instriguing characters. Ava has returned home to upstate NY and her family's failing vineyard and the life she tried to escape becasue her wild child sister Zelda has died. But Ava doesn't belive it becasue 1. Zelda wouldn't be so clumsy and unadventurous as to die in a fire from a lit cigarette, and 2. because Zelda is still communicating with Ava even after her apparent death! Zelda leads Ava on a scavenger hunt that takes her through a fantastic cast of characters and adventures. Will Ava find out the truth of Zelda's disappearance? This book was very hard to put down.                         A powerful and moving novel about a young boy, navigating life in the suoth with a drug addicted and haunted mother, an incarcerated father, a little baby sister to protect and the beauty and tragedy of the American South. Ward's novel is mesmerizing.
As the twentieth century draws to a close, Maria is at the start of a life she never thought possible. She and Khalil, her college sweetheart, are planning their wedding. They are the perfect couple, "King and Queen of the Racially Nebulous Prom." Their skin is the same shade of beige. They live together in a black bohemian enclave in Brooklyn, where Khalil is riding the wave of the first dot-com boom and Maria is plugging away at her dissertation, on the Jonestown massacre. They've even landed a starring role in a documentary about "new people" like them, who are blurring the old boundaries as a brave new era dawns. Everything Maria knows she should want lies before her--yet she can't stop daydreaming about another man, a poet she barely knows.  On February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son's body. Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel - in its form and voice - completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humor, pathos, and grace.  John despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.

Start your New Year off right at the Chelmsford Library!

Coming up in January, we have a whole host of new programs aimed at getting your 2018 resolutions off to a winning start! Are you planning a new diet? Hoping to finally make headway in your cleaning and organizing? Looking for some practical tips to remove stress and find peace in your life? Join us for a great line-up of programs at the library this month! All of these programs are free and open to the public:

Healthy Body, Healthy Planet: Want to improve your eating habits to help prevent heart disease and diabetes, help manage your weight AND benefit the environment, all at the same time? Certified Plant-based chef Tracie Hines will join us at 2PM on Sunday, January 7 to instruct attendees on the basics and benefits of plant-based nutrition. She’ll also handout recipes to try at home and have a better chance of success!

The Importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle: On Wednesday evening at 7PM January 17, join Dr. Renee Barille, registered dietitian and nutrition professor from the UML College of Health Sciences for a presentation sharing tips and tricks that will help you to begin and continue a healthier lifestyle this year, and make your resolutions a reality! This program brought to as part of the Chelmsford Board of Health’s Wednesday Wellness Series.

Friday Fiction, Best of the Year Edition:  Are you joining a New Year’s reading challenge or just planning to spend more time reading this year? Join us for Friday Fiction on January 19 at 10:30AM! We’ll highlight some of 2017s best reads and also suggest some new and upcoming titles to build your 2018 TBR list!

Mindfulness and meditation workshops: Be mindful with us this year! Learn to remove stress, meditate, be more present and improve overall health and wellness in a dramatic way with these two workshops. Attend both and achieve a greater chance of success!

Career Workshops: Thinking about changing, or starting, and new career path this year? Come to a new series of career workshops, beginning January 23, from 6:30-8 PM.  Chelmsford Public Library is hosting this series put on by the Lowell Career Center. If you’re a job seeker, these workshops are meant to help you get the edge you need to complete in your job search. January’s workshop will focus on LinkedIn and the steps needed to have a successful LinkedIn campaign.

Clutter Control 101 with Dave Downs: Tackle that clutter and get all of that “stuff” under control once and for all in 2018 using the tips from this engaging and informative program presented by humorist Dave Downs! Guaranteed to leave you with new ideas, methods and hints to reverse the tendency to bury yourself in treasures!

Let the Chelmsford Library help you reach your goals in 2018!