Book Reviews

Rhode Island Memories: The Early Years, A Pictorial History
by The Providence Journal

I so enjoyed this book. I saw it advertised in the Sunday Providence Journal a few times so I ordered a copy from the library. It is a little smaller than a standard coffee table book, so it is easy to hold but that doesn’t affect the quality of the photographs. I was pleased that instead of each chapter being a photographer’s portfolio, or by the town, they split it up by core items like agriculture, education, recreation and street scenes. I was delighted to see so many photos from my hometown! Well done.

Bird by Bird
by Anne Lamott

Wow. This whole book was brutally honest, a serious reality check and loaded with jabs of humor. What a perfect book to get anyone jump started with writing. This is one of those books you will read again someday soon. Can’t wait to read more books by her!

The Millionaire Next Door
by Thomas J Stanley & William D Danko

Some common sense stuff tossed in with some really smart points sprinkling with some super boring stuff.

Instastyle
by Tessa Barton

Alright, I will be honest here. I almost dismissed this book in the first few pages. I sometimes find it hard to take influencers seriously. Alas, the book was actually enjoyable and substantial.

My Sister, the Serial Killer
by Oyinkan Braithwaite

I saw this book reviewed in quite a few places. I noticed it hadn’t made the NYT best seller list yet so I figured there must be something special about it. It is a small book with super short, choppy chapters so I couldn’t take it seriously. But, I finished it and was left puzzled. Strangely, I enjoyed this book where we really only understood the characters on the surface. Bit of a conundrum here! Hmm….

If Beale Street Could Talk
by James Baldwin

I used to be totally on top of all the award nominated films. Then streaming services and greedy companies like Netflix and Amazon starting making their own shows and movies and don’t allow their made-for shows out on DVD in time for the awards, which means I can’t get them at the library, which means I won’t watch them. The only nominated film I saw was Bohemian Rhapsody. I turned the awards show on during Regina King’s thank-you speech. She won best supporting actress for If Beale Street Could Talk. I looked it up and it is actually a book (aren’t most if not all films today stolen from great books?). I have always wanted to read a novel by Baldwin, so I figured I’d pick this one up from the library. It was a quick story packed with tough characters and lots of emotion. Worth the read before seeing the film. Meanwhile I am still on the waiting list at the local library for the film. Stay tuned to the main page of my blog for a film review!

An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good
by Helen Tursten

The size of this book is adorable (as well as the cover art). I was initially concerned this would stink because it was translated, but it was great. Quick read in little stories revolving around the same elderly woman. It is dark but funny.

Regarding the Pain of Others
by Susan Sontag

My second attempt at a Sontag book. I quit halfway through this book. I just can’t get into Sontag. I thought because she covered history, art and photography that I might be interested but……NOPE.

Another Brooklyn
by Jacqueline Woodson

It’s a coming of age story that is well written, interesting and could almost be read in one sitting (if I had the time I would have loved to!) I recommend it!

And Then You Die of Dysentry: Lessons in Adulting From The Oregon Trail
by Lauren Reeves

As a 90s kid, I was a little disappointed here. It was small and not very substantial.  Didn’t like the combination the old and the new.

GMORNING, GNIGHT: Little Pep Talks for Me & You
by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Ok disclaimer – I only know Miranda from Hamilton (which I haven’t even seen yet) and the upcoming Mary Poppins remake. I don’t follow his Twitter so perhaps I am not as sentimental about this book as the rest, but it was just ok. You can read it in one sitting. Slightly inspirational and very simple. Illustrations were ok.

Poet X
by Elizabeth Acevedo

I previously never heard of the author or the book. Someone at my book club mentioned it. This coming of age story in prose is a quick read with a nice impact.

Children of Blood & Bone
by Tom Adeyemi

This is a teen novel filled with just the right amount of fantasy, magic and suspense. Also, had a great pace to it. Granted the pace may have been heightened because each chapter is told from the point of view of each character. This is first in a series!

Hindsight
by Justin Timberlake

Perhaps fans have been waiting years for a Timberlake autobiography. I feel like Timberlake is too cool an artist to write a standard size hardcover, so this almost coffee table-sized book is appropriate. It is filled with lots of graphics and photographs for a splash of artistic expression. I suppose it leaves readers with just enough information about his life to keep us satisfied but still wanting a little more. Exactly what I expected from this book.

The Library Book
by Susan Orlean

A story that was supposed to be about the great fire at the L.A. Public Library. Sure it was about that, but also a study of librarians and books. A little all over the place but makes me proud to work at a library!

Fashion Climbing
by Bill Cunningham

I was unaware of Bill Cunningham until I started to read the New York Times Sunday newspaper. I really enjoyed the small On the Street section by Cunningham. One day, I wrote his name down and looked for his work in books in the library catalog, but alas, I didn’t find any. But during my research I stumbled upon a documentary called Bill Cunningham New York. While I watched it, I just fell in love with Cunningham. He was portrayed as a simple, charming man whose lifestyle was never frivolous. He really did live for fashion. He woke up everyday, buttoned up the same blue jacket (which reminded me instantly of Mr Rogers) and started shooting the inspiration all around him taking only his faithful Nikon camera and bicycle.

I have been waiting months for the release of this book. If you love Cunningham, you will not be disappointed. How refreshing to hear his story in his own words. You can almost hear him telling you the story in person, really. His passion for fashion was so strong that he (somewhat respectfully) defied his parents and extended family and jumped right in to creating women’s hats. Most times he was poor and hungry but fashion nourished him. The point that strikes home hardest is sticking to your guns, being one of a kind and working at your art form despite the nay-sayers. How truly inspiring.

 

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
by Michael Scott

I was recently listening to the first book in the Harry Potter series. If you’ve already read it, you know the author weaves Nicholas Flamel into the story. I remembered The Alchemyst was always a hit with teens so I thought I would finally pick it up. Great read! It was action-packed and fun! I may even tackle the rest of the series some day!

 

 

Incantation
by Alice Hoffman

Coming of age stories are always a favorite of mine. This one took place during the Spanish Inquisition. I loved all of Hoffman’s teen books and this one is just as good as Green Witchand Green Angel. Don’t miss it! Quick read but well done!

 

Drama
by Raina Telgemeier

This teen book has come & gone over the desk at work for what seems like a million times. I have always been curious about it, but never had a chance to grab it. While working on the Banned Books Week display for my patrons, I noticed this made the challenged list. I decided this was a great excuse to read it. Well, I just loved it. What a sweet book. I will let YOU figure out why this book is challenged and/or banned. I see nothing wrong with it!

 

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers
by Maxwell King

Even though I admire Rogers, I am afraid this book just didn’t do it for me. It may be that the movie (which I loved) is still fresh in my mind. Compared to the movie the book was dry. I would have liked more primary sources (but maybe they are not available?) The film made me love Mr Rogers even more. The book was text about the man. Yikes!

Meet the Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living
by Elizabeth Willard Thames

I appreciate the author’s honesty about her somewhat privileged upbringing, but it lingered in my mind throughout the entire book. While what they achieved was not easy and took lots of discipline I just can’t be AS excited as someone who might have achieved the same result with a different background. Still, slightly inspiring!

 

Iris Apfel: An Accidental Icon
by Iris Apfel

Nice mix of text, photos and illustration. She is fabulous! Great for fashion fanatics!

Ghost Notebooks
by Ben Dolnick

Nice, quick read to gear up for the spookiest season of the year! Not TOO predictable either!

Return to Fear Street
by R.L. Stine

I had to look twice when I saw at work that R.L. Stine had a new Fear Street book out. Oh glorious trip back to my childhood. Oh how many Stine books I binge-read! This one was just like the novels I read in the 90s. Nice blast from the past!

It Ain’t So Awful Falafel
by Firoozeh Dumas

Great kid’s book! Realistic fiction. Really enjoyed it.

 

Natural Causes
by Barbara Ehrenreich

The beginning was great. She lost me somewhere in the middle then I caught up at the end. I think it is worth the read!

 

The Mermaid Handbook
by  Carolyn Turgeon

This came over the desk at work and I was struck by how pretty the cover was. I had to take it home. You really have to love mermaids to read this because the author covers everything and anything in history about mermaids. Enjoyable mix of history and crafts. FUN!

Six of Crows
by Leigh Ardugo

I stepped into the world of teen fantasy. It was good!


How To Break Up With Your Phone
by Catherine Price

Most of this is common sense (to me)but maybe not to those who are truly addicted to their phones. This is a much needed book for many. It was a nice reminder to put the phone down and enjoy life!


Kind is the New Classy
by Candace Cameron Bure

For fans of Fuller House/Full House. It was ok. Some parts inspiring other parts too religious for me. Always nice to read things by Candace.

Stolen
by ISGM

A nice collection of the items at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Rebecca
by Daphne Du Maurier

Can’t believe I read this for the first time as an adult. What a great book!! Why didn’t I discover this earlier?! Thanks to the Adult Reading Group for introducing it to me!

War on Normal People
by Andrew Yang

File this under things I didn’t want to read but was certainly worth it. If you care about the future of jobs READ THIS.

Luisa
by Carole Maurel

SO enjoyed this graphic novel.

Financial Diet
by Chelsea Fagan

Some parts were good!

Boston Public Library
by Catherin Willis

Grabbed this after my visit to Boston recently. I so enjoyed the library and this book was a nice quick history with great photos.


Why To Kill a Mockingbird Matters
by Tom Santopietro

Nope. Couldn’t finish it. Too much about the movie and most things everyone is already familiar with.

Bookshelf
by Alex Johnson

If you have a chance, just look at the photos!! What awesome shelves.

Stranger in the Woods
by Michael FInkl

Good, fast read!

Bad Feminist
by Roxane Gay

I like her. I like her a LOT. I like her writing and her POV even though I might not agree with it every time.

Fragments
A great book full of Marilyn’s own words (scanned copies of her written word). I always enjoy books in this format.

Angela’s Ashes
‘Tis
Teacher Man

by Frank McCourt

I listened to the audiobooks, all read by the author. I enjoyed Angela’s Ashes, liked ‘Tis but couldn’t finish Teacher Man. What a life this guy had!

 

Julian is a Mermaid
by Jessica Love

A colorful, fun and fabulous children’s book.


Because of Anya
by Margaret Peterson Haddix

A story about a young girl with Alopecia. A GREAT read for anyone. Take it from me! I have been there!


Master Thieves: The Boston Gangsters Who Puled Off the World’s Greatest Art Heist
by Stephen Kurkijan

Picked this up audiobook after a visit to the museum. Interesting!

50 Ways to Wear a Scarf
by Lauren Friedman

Illustrations are so sweet and I learned quite a few new ways to wear a scarf!

100 Best Albums Of…
by Peter Dodd and Justin Cawthorne

What fun we had reminiscing about our favorite hits!!

 

What Belongs To You
by Garth Greenwell

Such awkward relationships between the characters but it read really well.

Weapons of Math Destruction
by Cathy O’Neill

Scary, frustrating but not totally surprised about this topic. Another important book everyone should read (but very hard to digest!)


Art of Invisibility
by Kevin D. Mitnick

YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK. EVERYONE WHO USES A COMPUTER SHOULD READ THIS!

 

Avedon: Something Personal
by Norma Stevens & Steven M.L. Aronson

You have to know a ton about Avedon to read this book. There are very few of his photographs to make reference too. I found the book FAR too long, unorganized and at some points even PRETENTIOUS. Yikes. However, I did learn a decent amount about Avedon’s early life and career. – Kristin

Morningstar
by Ann Hood

This was a nice, quick, slightly inspiring book about Hood’s obsession with books and how certain titles shaped her life.

Baker’s Secret
by Stephen P. Kiernan

If you have read all the popular books on WWII (Nightingale, All the Light We Cannot See, Book Thief, Sarah’s Key etc.) then this is the next title you should pick up. It is quick read but hard to put down. The writing isn’t anything to call home about, but still worth the read!

Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age
by Sherry Turkle

Wow. Just wow. Long and well researched. Lots to study and learn about the next generation and their habits and etiquette.

“My grandmother wanted me to understand that I could take out any book. But the books would be a secret between me and the library. No one had the right to know the list of books I read.”

Does this generation even understand what it is like to be offline? I think not.

 

Big Mushy Happy Lump
by Sarah Andersen

Laugh out loud funny. Loved her first book and loving this one even more!

 

Mermaid
by Jodi Picoult
This is an Amazon Kindle Single Kindle in Motion book! Very cool! Looking forward to the novel!

 

The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas

The title is taken from TuPac’s lyrics. I read this teen novel in two days. Tough subject but well done!

Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

After being so pleased with her last book We Should All Be Feminists, I figured this one would be great too. I did not realize these fifteen suggestions were meant for a mother of a new baby. I almost returned it to the library, but I thought it might be worth my time – and it was. Adichie encourages the new mother to combat gender roles and stereotypes with education & good communication. Packs a powerful punch for such a tiny book. This might be my new go-to baby shower gift!

Adulthood is a Myth
by Sarah Andersen

This book is hilarious. I think this book’s hilarity will ring true with a small group of weirdos like me. And you certainly HAVE to be a woman to get it. Thank you Sarah!

Crossing the Bamboo Bridge: Memoirs of a Bad Luck Girl
by Mai Donohue

Here’s a great memoir that I could not put down! This woman is something else! Forced into marriage at age 14, Donohue’s dreams of reading and education were constantly squashed by her mother and society. This woman persisted and overcame so many obstacles. Do read!


Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It
by Dr Josh Axe

This was good but some parts were just far too OUT THERE for me like the blurbl about fecal transplant. (If you have a faint heart, don’t Google it.) But he does have some interesting points about being an over-sanitized society! I listened to the audiobook, but they leave out lots of charts and resources at the end of the print book!

Curious: the Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It
by Ian Leslie

I knew I was going to like this book because the author begins by saying robots can’t replace
curious people. This was an interesting read!

Head-On: Stories of Alopecia
by DeeAnn Callis Graham

This is a must-read for anyone who has Alopecia, especially if you are just starting out with this auto-immune disease. Also a great resource for parents, family & friends of those with Alopecia.

DIY Succulents
by Tawni Daigle

Even if you don’t have the time to read it, check this book out just for the photos. Includes lots of projects most amateurs can tackle.

Britt Marie Was Here
by Fredrik Backman

Fans of A Man Called Ove will enjoy this novel. You don’t immediately fall in love with the main character Britt Marie since she’s rather quirky and odd. But in the end you will root for her and the cast of characters.

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Fictitious Dishes
by Dinah Fried

Stumbled upon this at the library. What a great idea. RISD alum Dinah Fried chooses classic books and sets up these fictitious dishes and photographs them. VERY COOL!

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The Other Boy
by M.G. Hennessey

Fans of Palacio’s Wonder will enjoy this book. This is a children’s novel about a preteen named Shane, who in the beginning of the novel, we assume is a boy. Later in the book we learn he was born a girl. Throughout the book he faces some tough choices and shows his peers what it means to stay true to what you believe.

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And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer & Longer
by Fredrik Backman

Fans of A Man Called Ove are sure to love Backman’s latest novella. This is a touching story about a grandfather and grandson. Get the tissues out!

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Revenge of Analog
by David Sax

If you are anything like me, you are feeling totally overwhelmed by the pace of technology these days, and may be yearning for more analog things. If that is the case, then this book is for you. Sax makes some pretty strong arguments for analog devices like record players, photographic film and handwriting! He might just have you believing they are making a comeback!

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Moo
by Sharon Creech

OBSESSED! This is a children’s chapter book. It’s the story of two young children whose family moves from the big city to small town Maine. The children meet their rather peculiar, elderly neighbor with whom they will eventually spend lots of time. At first they are frightened of her but soon they will learn how important she is and she (and her cow) will change their lives.

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The Invisible Library
by Genevieve Cogman

“I & Mr Strongrock are agents of a library which exists between alternate worlds. Our task is to collect books for the Library from all these worlds, to preserve them.”

Harry Potter fans may enjoy this 1st book of the Invisible Library series.
Our protagonist, librarian Irene, battles bad guys, vampires and all sorts of mythical creatures, in alternate universes to retrieve a very special book that belongs in a very special library. This is a quick, fun read.

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Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon

Here is one of those books you wish you’d known about sooner.
You can read this in 1-2 sittings!
Haddon’s novel is told from the point-of-view of Christopher John Francis Boone. It is obvious as you read along he has some form of autism. You will love him because he is honest and funny ( even though he doesn’t quite “get” funny.)  I do enjoy reading from other’s perspective and his is very interesting. Ride along as Boone tries to solve the murder of a dog and learns a WHOLE LOT about his family & his life!

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Shine
by Jodi Picoult

Before you read this, please note this novel is available only in EBOOK form. Picoult released this short story as sort of an introduction to her novel coming out this Fall, calledSmall Great Things. In her normal “Picoult” fashion, we are introduced to the main character, Ruth, who is about to attend a prestigious school. She is a bright young lady who is expected to do well in school. But there is something that is setting her apart from the rest of the class: RACE. Picoult does not disappoint.

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Keep Curious and Carry a Banana
by H.A. Rey
YES this is a book for adults.
This is a sweet little reminder of what life is really about – and that Curious George is still our favorite monkey!!

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Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers

I recently booked a trip to NYC for my husband’s birthday.
I was watching a documentary about Tiffany’s called
“Crazy about Tiffany’s” and a reference was made to this book. The library copy I read was the 1989 edition. It was totally charming and some parts were laugh-out-loud funny.

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Jim Henson: A Biography
by Brian Jay Jones

It took me a while to finish this. I wanted to read it slowly because it was so detailed. Jim Henson was a remarkable guy. I don’t want to put him too high on a pedestal, but we could learn a lot from him. While his ability to communicate his feelings and resolve conflict was not to be admired, his ideas about inspiring the world (and children) with his artistry was outstanding. I so enjoyed learning about his family and how his grandmother influenced his path to art. Just great!

Pearl-That-Broke-Its-Shell
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell
by Nadia Hashimi

Outstanding. Just totally outstanding. Fans of Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner & A Thousand Splendid Suns will love this one, perhaps even MORE.  I will be honest – I almost quit. I had a really hard time dealing with the way women/girls are treated in this book. I am glad I didn’t stop. These are some amazing people &  amazing stories. And who knows – perhaps they were inspired by true stories? We will never know.

How To Cook Everything (The Basics)
by Mark Bittman

This is a great cookbook for someone who is just learning out to cook! Bittman shows readers how to cut vegetables and and prepare food the right way. Lots of great color photographs!

Murder and the First Lady
by Elliot Roosevelt

This is book one of a murder mystery series staring first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. These are so fun and very easy to read. If you like this try the Capital Crime series by Margaret Truman

90 Lessons for Living Large in 90 Square Feet
by Felice Cohen

Could you do it? Could you live in a 90 square foot apartment? This is a quick, easy read that you might find interesting!

The Girls Who Went Away
by Ann Fessler

This is a tough book to read, but it is worth it. This is the story of the young women who were sent away from home because they became pregnant out of wedlock. These women were forced to give their babies up for adoption and return to their regular lives without counseling or even talking to family or friends about what happened.

Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
by Danny Danziger

If you love the Met or any art museum, then you’ll love this book. Each chapter tells the point of view of an array of staff from a curator to the janitor. Cool book!

Dog Years: Faithful Friends, Then and Now
by Amanda Jones

Great photos of dogs when they were puppies and photos of them now. Enough said!