Staff Review

Head-On: Stories of Alopecia
Editor: Deeann Callis Graham

If you know me, you know I am bald as the day I was born. I have Alopecia. I would wager money that most people have never even heard of Alopecia.  Sure you can Google the term and read about the disease but no website or pamphlet truly tells you what the diagnosis means and how it affects two percent of the population, emotionally. Well, enter Head-On: Stories of Alopecia. I sure wish this book were around during my initial diagnosis. The book is a collection of over seventy stories written by people of all ages who have had or have Alopecia. This book really covers it all. I strongly recommend reading this if you or someone you know has just be diagnosed with Alopecia. – Kristin A.

Staff Review

The Island of Sea Women
By Lisa See
Read by Jennifer Lim

I LOVED this audiobook.  The story is fascinating and the reader is proficient in portraying all the characters.

On the Island of Jeju, south of South Korea, East of China, and West of Japan, lives a unique culture where women dominate – they do dangerous work and the men stay home and take care of the babies and children.

Mi-ja and Young-sook are two friends whose lives are tested by the outside influences from the Japanese colonialism of the 1930’s and 1940s, World War II, the Korean War, and the challenges of our modern world.

The women free-dive in bitterly cold waters wearing only thin white cotton wrapped around their bodies and heads. They carry weighted nets to hold their finds of edible sea creatures.  One diver is almost killed by an octopus and another one drowns while hunting for abalone.

I love a good sense of place, and this book does it.  And if you like historical novels, the unforgiving details of the domination and wars that affected this island are beyond imaginable.

I’m intrigued how Young-sook worked so hard to provide for her family. The haenueo are incredible women who look out for one another and forge lifetime friendships. – Deb

Staff Review

The Engagements
by J. Courtney Sullivan

I was recently given a copy of The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan which was published in 2013. I was aware of her novels but had yet to read any of them.

Tucked in between its pages the previous reader had left a clipping from The Boston Globe featuring an interview with the author about the book. I purposely put it aside not wanting it to influence my reading of it in any way. 

At the center of this fictional story the main character is based on the real life of Frances Gerety, a copywriter for a Philadelphia adverting agency beginning in the 1940’s who was assigned to the agency’s biggest account, DeBeers Jewelers.  As the book travels over the decades, the author explores the lives of four people, some of whom experienced engagements, some not, always returning to Frances and the factual history of the DeBeers marketing strategy to promote diamond rings which began with the engagement ring. 

I’m not a fan of historical fiction and the tool of taking real people and using them as characters. I find it a gimmick – I’m always wondering what was true, what was created by the author and how unfair it is the person who is no longer alive to tell their story.  However after finishing the book, I was grateful to learn that Ms. Sullivan did a great deal of research, and more importantly, had had lengthy interviews with former colleagues and friends of Frances; I felt confident that she, a women ahead of her time was presented accurately and would appreciate her story being told.

Ms. Sullivan is often lauded for her developed and drawn out characters. At times I found the characters too developed, leaving little to the reader’s imagination; some of the characterizations bordered on being one dimensional and stereotypical. For me the most interesting character was not the fictional ones but was Frances.

After a handful of chapters and not feeling overly enamored with the story I pulled out the interview and discovered that there would eventually be a connection linking the individual characters. Armed with this nugget, the amateur sleuth in me resumed reading with a new curiosity to figure it out. I’m glad I finished the book.  I’m grateful to Ms. Sullivan for sharing the life of Frances Gerety, a woman whose work in a once male dominated industry contributed immeasurably to the success of DeBeers. We need more stories which reveal and acknowledged the ground breaking contributions of such women. ~ Nina Murphy 

Staff Book Review

We all know Bristol, Rhode Island is super special and so are all the people who live here. What better way to pay tribute to these people than to feature them in a book?! Nadalin introduces you to the many key players past and present – founders, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and my favorite – librarians!!  If you can’t make it to the library to borrow the book, you might be pleasantly surprised to know it is available in eBook format as well! I recommend this for anyone new to Bristol! It will give you a nice introduction to our lovely little town. If you already live here, do pick it up. It is enjoyable! – Kristin


Staff Review

The Benefits of Being an Octopus, by Ann Braden

    The debut author, Ann Braden, is a middle school teacher in Vermont.  Frustrated that there are books about urban youth and well off suburban teens, but  there were so few books about struggling teens, she decided to write her own book about teens in Vermont.  The result is a fantastic multilayered book! Zoey is a seventh grader, living in a trailer with her mother who works nights at a pizza place, her boyfriend, Lenny (and his father) and Zoey’s younger brother and sister.  Zoey know her life would be easier if she were an octopus with eight arms who could get everything done with them. In her real life, she can’t get her homework done at night because she is too busy taking care of her brother and sister while her mother is at work.  The trailer that her family lives in is Lenny’s and she and her mother try to make everything right so that Lenny is happy with them. When a teacher gets Zoey on the after school debate team,

she begins to think a bit more about what is going on around her and what she can do to change it for the better.

       The whole atmosphere of this book is the real Vermont, with friction between the well-to-do middle class and the working poor and how neighbors can help each other.  All the characters are very real and well done in a story with real tension. Terrific book!

Staff DVD Review


An excellent movie, that will hold your attention from start to finish! This movie is about the legendary rock band Queen and its gifted singer Freddie Mercury. A definite to put on your “to watch” list. It will leave you wanting to know more about this eclectic and creative band!

Many thanks to our Outreach librarian for sending in this review!