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Author Archives:Liz Reed

Reader Reviews – Summer 2019

Submit a review here.

5-star Reviews

Fiction

The Tie that Binds by Kent Haruf
Fiction
“I have loved every book by Kent Haruf and this one did not disappoint! Easy read and hard to put down- great for summer.”

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michelle Richardson
Historical fiction
“I never knew about the “blue people” of Kentucky, very interesting and entertaining novel!”

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Fiction
“An outstanding book. The story will stay with you well after you’ve finished reading it.”

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
Historical fiction
“This book was great. Definitely emotional throughout this read. Hated to see it end.”

Summer of 69 by Elin Hilderbrand
Fiction
“Great summer read for Boston readers and beyond! I love reading this author in the summer, as most of her books are easy reads and based on the local island of Nantucket. This book takes her usual frivolous ‘beach read’ style to a deeper level as she delves into historical fiction in a both relatable and complex fashion. Highly recommend.”

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
Historical fiction
“I couldn’t put this book down”

A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn
Mystery
“For fans of this series it’s a smash hit like the three before this one. It’s also a clever mystery for someone who hasn’t read the other Veronica Speedwell mysteries. This series has me looking up all this author has to offer and I haven’t been disappointed yet!”

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Fiction
“I could not put this book down! It was a mystery, romance, coming of age and detective book all in one.”

The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope
Historical fiction
“Makes you look at the American Revolution in a whole new light!”

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
Historical fiction
“Covering the 1950s through the present, this is the story of two sisters and how the eras they live in affect their lives. Societal norms toward race and sexual identity are addressed through the lens of their experiences. You will root for both of them as they overcome adversity and help each other out.”

Circe by Madeline Miller
Historical Fiction
“This novel depicts the life of Circe, the witch from the odyssey. Excellent writing and a new perspective on a classic. Miller has done extensive research and while the novel is easy to read it still stays true to the greek mythology and details. I had trouble putting this one down!”

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman
Fiction
“Somewhat of a light read but still wonderful. The main character is a bookworm who works in a bookstore and lives for pub trivia, book clubs and reading. When she unexpectedly gains a whole slew of relatives and a love interest her anxiety gets the best of her and she must decide to stay alone in her shell or let these new people in even if it means adding some disorder and chaos to her life. This novel is also peppered with literary references and jokes that would make any bookworm happy!”

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Fiction
“This book was about rock and roll in the seventies. It reminded me a lot about the movie Almost Famous. I had a hard time putting it down.”

Nonfiction

The Mincing Mockingjay Guide to Troubled Birds by Matt Adrian
Humor, Birds
“Hilarious! For those who love birds…and for those who do not.”

The Carrying by Ada Limón
Poetry
A really beautiful collection of free verse poetry!

The Latte Factor: Why you don’t need to be rich to live rich by David Bach
Personal finance
“Quick, easy & interesting guide to attaining financial stability.”

Everything’s Trash, But it’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson
Essays
“Audiobook version highly recommended! Phoebe is hilarious even when she’s covering important and tough subjects.”

Young Adult

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Romance, LGBT
“This is one of my top audiobooks of 2019. The performers of this had me laughing, shrieking, and purposefully taking the congested route so I could get stuck in traffic and spend more time with Arthur and Ben. The story is an adorable, summery romp based in New York City, and is such a love letter to the city, and especially to Broadway. Two boys meet in passing, and then conspire aganist the universe to find each other again. Is it flawless? Nope. But it was so damned funny and dorky, that I willingly overlook the flaws and the sometimes immaturity of the characters (they are high school kids…I can remember being that overly dramatic). If you enjoyed Simon vs. The Homospaiens Agenda, you will loooove this one. I am so sad it’s over.”

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Science fiction
“HOLY CRAP.

Someone give these two a standing ovation. This was an awesome read.”

A Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Fantasy
“A MAGICAL LIBRARY! MAGIC! ADVENTURE! FIGHTS! ROMANCE! WITTY REPERTOIRE! AND A BADASS HEROINE! YES– I AM WRITING THIS ALL IN CAPS, IT’S THAT GOOD.”

4-star Reviews

Fiction

The Summer Country by Lauren Willig
Historical fiction
“Great novel about 1800s Barbados and the sugar cane industry. Lauren Willig is one of my favorite historical mystery mixed with romance authors and this one does not disappoint. The book is well researched and I found myself learning a few things about the culture and strife of slaves on these cane plantations. I do knock this down to four stars because it does slow down a bit at some parts that seemed unnecessary. However by the end there were enough twists and turns that I couldn’t complain too much! If you’re a fan of Beatriz William’s or Karen White you will love this!”

Searching For Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
Fiction
“This novel reminded me of Celeste Ng’s “Everything I never told you.” There’s a sister that seems perfect and goes missing when she visits her grandmother. The younger sister goes and searches for her only to find out some new things about her sister. It has family drama, a little mystery and well developed characters. It’s not a thriller necessarily but it does keep you in suspense.”

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Fiction
“Written like a music documentary of a seventies rock band, including lyrics created by the characters. Like her previous novel she takes famous figures and melts them together to create a very believable and deep character. My one issue was the documentary style, you got snippets of the main story from various characters and ,while it still sucked me in, I feel like you lost a little of the flow in this style. This was a great beach/vacation read!”

Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen
Mystery, Comedy
“If you’re looking for a fun caper, this book does the trick. All of the characters – including Yancy, the protagonist – are flawed, but you’ll be cheering on Yancy as he tries to solve a murder mystery despite many setbacks. The Florida Keys also plays a role. So, get your beach chair ready and settle in to enjoy this fun summer read.”

A Gathering of Wolves by Michael Hammonds
Western
“Quick read. Western tropes abound but made fresh with Hammonds’ wily old timer and strong female protagonist partnership.”

All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Science Fiction
“Sci-fi novella, a bit funny, human-robot hybrid seeks redemption for past crimes.”

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young
Romance, Contemporary
“It was a deeper and more serious read than the traditional trashy romance. I liked it a lot and it really did address the flaws of the characters…Was it perfect? No, but it was a really good beach read.”

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
Historical fiction
“This novel starts in 1940 with a young Vivian Morris as she sets out to New York City to live with her aunt. Her aunt owns the Lilly Playhouse and Vivian ends up enjoying a wild summer with all the various characters that inhabit the upper two floors of the theater. All this fun does not come without consequences and after a year of adventure she finds herself lost and with many burned bridges. As the book continues there’s growth and Vivian eventually finds her way. Overall I found there to be many unexpected twists and turns that made the story interesting. I went with four stars because I found that the novel slowed down toward the middle but I still needed to find out the ending so I guess it wasn’t too bad!

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten
Fiction, Short Stories
“Cozy mystery-adjacent stories about an elderly lady who solves her problems via murder. ”

Nonfiction

Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear by Kim Brooks
Parenting Memoir
“A great discussion starter for a Mom’s book group.”

Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement by John Lewis
Autobiography
“This autobiography by John Lewis, a major figure in the civil rights movement and current Atlanta congressman, provides a meticulously detailed and insightful look into the heart of the civil rights movement. Although painfully slow at times, the book does an incredible job of peopling the movement, makes a compelling case for the practice of nonviolence, and connects distressingly easily to several contemporary political and societal issues.”

Young Adult

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah Maas
Fantasy
“Quick easy summer read if you are into Young Adult (like the Hunger Games or Twilight Series)”

3-star Reviews

Fiction

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
Fantasty
“Fun fantasy fluff. Good for a beach read.”

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms
Fiction
“Cute summer read about a single mom who gets a chance for some self care after her estranged husband comes back and takes the kids for a summer. A bit predictable and had me a bit annoyed at her sanctimonious monologues but it was a nice beach read. The main character and love interest are librarians and total book nerds so that added a star for me!”

The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho
Classic, Fable
“I’m still confused on what I just read.”

Nonfiction

Save Me The Plums: My Gourmet Memoir by Ruth Reichl
Memoir, Food
“Light read, with minimal drama. But there is a lot of talk about how the author was always ‘one of the average Americans’ that never would have changed because of a high paying job…And then she got one of the most luxurious jobs in New York City and seemed to think that having her own private bathroom in her office, and being sent to exclusive hotels around Europe was normal. I took a lot of her writing with a grain of salt (food pun, get it?)”

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman
Essays, Families & relationships
“This book has some good lessons like how to survive IKEA and why Ron Weasley is a bad best friend, but it’s not really a must-read.”

Young Adult

Love a la Mode by Stephanie Strohm
Romance
“Very cute book to read on the beach. I was craving potatoes and itching to be in my kitchen the whole time. Extra star for the obvious passion for eating and good food.”

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
Fantasy
“Fantasy set in a mythical Arabian setting. A girl must disguise herself as a boy to retrieve an artifact that could save her whole country…And of course, along the way she meets a dark and mysterious assassin who may or may not be everything he says he is…”

2-star Reviews

Fiction

The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
Fiction
“Rambling and difficult to follow.”

Nonfiction

 

1-star Reviews

Fiction

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan
New Adult, Fantasy, Horror
“The premise was great, but the execution made me want to gouge my eyes out. It literally got interesting the last 10 pages of the book.”

Nonfiction

 

Art-of-Happy-Moving-book-cover

Happy Moving Day!

Art-of-Happy-Moving-book-coverHave you ever had the experience of finding the exact right book at the exact wrong moment? And I don’t mean those times when you’re sure you put the book down somewhere where you knew you definitely wouldn’t forget it, and you know you’ll find it eventually but you’ve looked EVERYWHERE and have given it up for lost, so you finally pay the late fee at the library and get back in your car only to find it under the front seat.

Instead, I mean those occasions when you don’t even know you should be looking for a book and the universe intervenes to drop into your hands the book that perfectly fits your situation…only about two days after it would have been really useful.

Friends, I am living that moment as we speak. A few days ago I was standing at the New Nonfiction shelf on the library’s first floor (at the bottom of the staircase, before you walk into the Fiction section, if you’re interested), just minding my own business and turning a few books face-out to attract readers, when I found it. I found the book that, had I had it two months, two weeks, or even two days earlier, would have made my life much less stressful. Even if I didn’t have time to follow all the practical advice in the book, I would have at least had the mental comfort of the author’s light-hearted prose. But no. I found “The Art of Happy Moving: How to declutter, pack, and start over while maintaining your sanity and finding happiness,” by Ali Wenzke, literally the day after I moved.

Wenzke’s book isn’t an exact how-to book for my situation – she has a lot of experience with cross-country moves and I only moved locally within the Boston area, for instance – but she’s got a lot of good advice about how to prepare for the move, checklists for moving day itself, and even pro tips for how to settle into your new home and neighborhood. It’s also a quick read, I’m already halfway through and I’ve been busy unpacking.

More than anything, “The Art of Happy Moving” is a moral support kind of book. Other books and websites get more into the nitty-gritty of evaluating your finances before you buy a house, how to budget all the different costs of home ownership, etc, but the strength of Wenzke’s book is that it feels like having a conversation with a trusted friend who has absolutely been there before, and who knows how to get through a move not only unscathed, but also better off on the other side.

And the real showpiece of Wenzke’s book? “The Art of Happy Moving” is chock-full of great advice for how to do every step of the moving process – with children. From making regular (even non-moving-related) decluttering into a fun game, to discussing the move with kids, to helping them integrate into their new school, Wenzke gives real-world advice that is absolutely worth checking out.

So, how would my move have gone differently if my timing hadn’t been so ironic? Things probably would have shaken out differently in a number of ways. For instance, having an official timeline checklist would have been helpful. I also might have narrowed down my search to a shorter list of towns earlier in the process, saving myself time not looking at towns less likely to fit my lifestyle.

One of this book’s chapters is called “The secret to happy moving: get rid of everything you own,” and she’s not really kidding. I had actually started decluttering over the winter, getting rid of things that didn’t “spark joy,” a la Marie Kondo. I also started packing well in advance of my move, but by the time I got to moving day I wished I’d gotten rid of even more.

Luckily for me, Wenzke includes a number of chapters aimed at the post-move reader, so my timing might now be so unfortunate after all. Of particular interest are her chapters on arranging your new house to be a happy home with special places for your family and for entertaining, and on how to meet people and make friends in your new town.

Kitty and I are settling into our new place – and yes the book does have a chapter on moving with pets – and getting back to our routine after the controlled chaos of moving. Some boxes were packed so long ago that I’ve forgotten what’s in them, so unboxing feels a little like opening gifts. I’m glad to be moving on to the next step in the process, and even though moving is a necessary activity it’s not something I recommend if you can help it. However, if you’re contemplating or faced with a move, I do recommend picking up a copy of “The Art of Happy Moving.” The Norwood library owns the hard copy, plus both the ebook and e-Audiobook versions are available digitally through hoopla, which is accessible to all Norwood residents. Happy moving day!

Liz Reed is the Adult Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood MA. You can read her article in the Thursday July 11 edition of The Transcript Newspaper.

Summer Reading 2019 for Adults and Teens

photo-fo-books-and-beach-umbrellasHello, Norwood readers! Once again, we have two great options for adults and teens to take part in summer reading with the Morrill Memorial Library in 2019. Everyone high school-aged or older can take part, and don’t worry, audiobooks and graphic novels definitely count.

Weekly Prizes – July, August, and first week of September

Log all the books you read for a chance to win prizes! Every week in July and August we’ll be drawing for a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card from that week’s entries. To enter these weekly prize drawings, fill out and submit this form, OR fill out the paper version and return it to the submission box on the Circulation Desk. Paper forms can be found on the Circulation and Reference Desks. There will be a grand prize drawing on Friday September 6 from all these entries for a $35 Barnes & Noble gift card. If you write a book review on your form, we’ll post it (anonymously) on our website. This way, we can all share book recommendations!

Read reviews here!

Readers’ BINGO – all of June, July, August, and first week of September

Plus, you can take part in Summer Reading BINGO! Download BINGO sheets below, or pick them up in the library. BINGO sheets can be submitted to Nancy Ling in Outreach or to Liz Reed in Reference, in person or via email. Turn them in even if you’ve only completed one or two rows – you might win! You can double-dip with both the weekly prize entry and the BINGO sheet, but each title can only be counted once on the BINGO sheet itself. For every completed BINGO row, you get one entry in the drawing for gift cards provided by several generous local sponsors. For BINGO, feel free to count any books you read in June, July, August, and the first week of September. Sheets must be turned in by the end of the day on Friday September 6. Note, there are a number of squares this year that are activities rather than completed books, so take a close look!

Download BINGO sheets here!

Gift certificate prizes will be provided by these local sponsors:

Minas-cafe-steakhouseOne-bistro-logo  RelaxZen-logo

 

 

 

Questions? Please contact either Nancy Ling (nling@minlib.net, 781-769-0200 x228) or Liz Reed (lreed@minlib.net, 781-769-0200 x110). Have fun!

Viola Sastavickas Scholarship

The family of Viola Sastavickas made a donation to the Morrill Memorial Library in 2007 in order to create a permanent scholarship in the amount of $500. This scholarship was to be awarded annually to a current or former library employee or library volunteer for one of the following purposes: undergraduate or graduate school, a formal course of study, or an enrichment opportunity (continuing education).

This scholarship has been awarded ten times since 2007: (Elizabeth Porter, 2007; Lauren Bailey, 2008; Carolyn Bradley, 2009; Jillian Goss, 2010; Samantha Sherburne, 2011; Odhran O’Carroll, 2012; Laura Hogan, 2013; Hallie Miller, 2014; Maureen Riordan, 2015; Chloe Belanger, 2016; Jyotika Tandan, 2017; and Dina Delic, 2018.)  The scholarship will once again be awarded in 2019 thanks to the continued generosity of the Sastavickas family.

Viola Sastavickas was a life-long resident of Norwood and a frequent library user. According to her daughter Kathy, the scholarship is “a fitting tribute to our beautiful mother and to the library and staff who treated her with great respect and affection.”

A brief application form is available to pick up at the library as well as on the library’s website, norwoodlibrary.org. Please contact Charlotte Canelli at 781-769-0200, ext. 101. Applications are due by May 15, 2019 and must be submitted electronically to the director: ccanelli@minlib.net. The scholarship will be awarded by June 30, 2019.

Sastavickas Scholarship Application

flowers-and-essential-oil-bottle

An Unlikely Advocate of Aromatherapy

flowers-and-essential-oil-bottleAromatherapy became an interest of mine, oddly enough, after attending a technology conference. A few years back, I was lucky enough to attend the “Computers in Libraries” conference in Virginia. As an Information Technology Librarian, I have always loved attending this conference. It’s very exciting to see what other libraries around the country (and beyond!) are doing with technology to better serve their communities.

After my first day at the conference, I was just exhausted. There is so much information to process, and I had two more days to go, so I went back to the small AirBnB that I had rented to relax. On the nightstand next to the bed, my hosts had left an essential oil diffuser with some instructions. I was totally unfamiliar with diffusers and even essential oils at that point, but filled it up with water, put some drops of peppermint oil in, and started it up. It was SO relaxing! I immediately texted my wife and told her about it. She was really excited and mentioned that she had been eyeing several different diffusers online, but thought that I would think she was crazy! When I got home, we ordered a really nice diffuser from Amazon and hit up our local health food store for the oils to go with it. My wife and I have incorporated it into our nightly routine, and after the kids are in bed, we put on a good show and a nice relaxing essential oil blend in the diffuser to unwind. When the kids are particularly energetic near bedtime, we also use a roll-on combination of lavender and a carrier oil (oils should never be applied directly to the skin!) to help calm them down- it works wonders!

As I began to do more research, I learned that diffusing essential oils is part of a holistic healing treatment known as “aromatherapy.” In aromatherapy, inhaling the steam from essential oils stimulates the olfactory system, and the beneficial molecules from the diffused oil then enter into the lungs, where they are then dispersed throughout the body. When the molecules reach the brain, they stimulate (or relax) the emotions. Diffusing different essential oils will, of course, produce different scents, but depending on the essential oil (or oil mixtures) that you use, you can also improve your mood, boost your immune system, improve sleep quality, treat headaches and migraines, and help with relaxation and meditation.

The library offers some great books on essential oils and aromatherapy, in particular through our Hoopla app, which will give you instant access to a plethora of useful titles on the subject. Perhaps one the best and most comprehensive offered through the Hoopla app is “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy” by Valerie Ann Worwood. Worwood’s book delves deep into not only the many essential oils that exist, but is also organized into chapters that give essential oil recommendations for specific individuals (men, women, children, athletes, travelers, etc.). Worwood further divides each individual type into a specific ailment or consideration that might pertain to them, for example, babies and young children should only be exposed to certain types of diffused oils and in specific ratios, due to their extra sensitive skin, so the book gives a good overview of what oils are appropriate for which age type to assist caregivers in diffusing appropriate oil types.

If you are new to diffusing essential oils, or essential oils in general, my best recommendation to start with is “the mother of all essential oils:” lavender. Lavender is a great essential oil that has a lot of utility and health benefits. It’s safe for babies (when diluted) and some recent evidence
shows it has been effective in reducing the symptoms of colic in babies (take note, restless parents!). It has a very flowery aroma, and is an antiseptic, antibiotic, and antidepressant. Lavender can also easily mix well with other essential oils like rose, grapefruit, and sweet orange, which smell great and have health benefits of their own. If properly diluted, lavender can also be applied topically to heal rashes and burns.

I have tried many different essential oils and oil blends, and I have a lot of favorites, but my personal favorite, both in terms of scent, health benefits, and mood relaxing properties, is frankincense. In case you ever wondered why one of the Magi presented frankincense to the baby Jesus; it is because it was highly prized due to its powerful rejuvenating and revitalizing qualities (perhaps you can also see the symbolism of the gift). Frankincense is a natural disinfectant that boosts the immune system, refreshes skin, can ease respiratory infection symptoms, and is, to me, the perfect essential oil for meditation. Frankincense is the yin to lavender’s yang. Lavender is soft and floral, frankincense by contrast, has a strong woody, smoky, earthy scent to it, which I really enjoy, but might not be to everyone’s liking. You can learn more about frankincense, and other seasonally relevant scents, myrrh, pine needle, mistletoe, and others from the article “Gifts of Healing… from Herbs of the Season” which can be found though our Gale Database section on the library website.

I hope that you check out what the library has to offer on aromatherapy, learn more, and try diffusing some oils yourself. As a thirty-five year old man, I never thought that I would be writing a column about essential oils, and my discovery of aromatherapy was very unlikely to say the least, but I am a believer in the benefits that it can offer. Remember, if you are new to using our Hoopla app, or would like assistance in setting it up, you can schedule a one-on-one tech appointment here at the library. We are happy to get you connected and on your way to learning more!

Brian DeFelice is the Technology Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA. Look for his article in the December 19, 2018 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

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