Thursday, May 30, 2019

WooReads Patron Book Reviews: M is for Mystery

Every week we get so many mystery book reviews from our WooReaders! Because of that, we decided to feature patron book reviews on that subject. Hopefully all you mystery fans will find something new to try! And don’t forget that tomorrow is the day we draw our two Grand Prize Winners for a Kindle Paperwhite. To qualify for the drawing you must log at least 20 books here: If you’re short on time, don’t forget you can log all the way back to September 2018.

Happy Reading!

Promise Me 
By Harlan Coben
This book was so action packed from the start. 2 teenagers disappeared from the same high school . What happened to them? Myron Bolitar promised to help one if needed, did he cause her to be missing? Keeps you guessing until the very end.

~ Karen S.

Bryant And May: Hall Of Mirrors 
By Christopher Fowler
Bryant and May: Hall of Mirrors is a mystery that visits the early days of the Peculiar Crimes Unit. Set in the swinging 1960's, this was an enjoyable prequel to the series, with an Agatha Christie-style country house, dry British humor and gruesome murders. Trapped in decrepit English mansion with a group of quirky suspects, while floods and war games isolate them, Bryant and May must keep an untrustworthy witness alive and well so he can testify in court. As the body count rises, the detectives try to keep calm and solve the mystery before outside help can arrive. Christopher Fowler's series is full of cultural references, arcane history of London and insider jokes. In Hall of Mirrors, it was entertaining to see how the now elderly detectives got their start. If you enjoy Christopher Fowler's series, this is a great new novel, and if you have never read any, this is an intriguing introduction!

~ Mary Ry.

This Pen For Hire 
By Laura Levine
I love a good funny mystery, and this one hit the mark. It's the first in the series, written in about 2014. The main character is goofy and sweet, and at one point had me laughing so hard I was shaking the bed!

~ Judi P.

The Silent Patient 
By Alex Michaelides
Great first novel. A page turner!

~ Kathy M.

Kingdom Of The Blind
By Louise Penny
Penny continues to deliver an original and riveting story in her Inspector Gamache series.

~ Mary Rs.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Rainy Days of Summer

Planning a trip to the Cape this summer? Every summer Cape Cod, Nantucket,and Martha`s Vineyard host thousands of tourists. If we New Englanders had a say in the weather, we would see the sun a lot more. So what can you do when a little rain takes you off the beach? Delve into the rich history of Cape Cod and its islands by exploring the many museums it has to offer. 

Sandwich Glass Museum 
This museum, which used to be a glass factory, tells visitors the story of the glass industry in Sandwich. Watch glass blowing demonstrations and tour exhibits of stunning glass art, both old and new.

Cape Cod Maritime Museum (Hyannis)
Learn about Cape Cod`s maritime history with art exhibits, artifacts from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and see how boats are restored.

Provincetown Art Association & Museum
Visit one of the art exhibits at PAAM, which pays tribute to historic and contemporary art, or take an art class!
Nantucket Basket Lightship Museum
Learn about the history of lightship baskets and tour an exhibit that explores how they are made. 
Martha`s Vineyard Museum (Vineyard Haven) Explore MVM`s extensive collection of art, documents, paintings, and other historical items from Martha`s Vineyard history.
Attend exhibits and classes to learn about white sharks, and the research and education programs established by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy to ensure the preservation of the species.

Want to plan ahead? 
Check out our  travel guides
about the best places to eat, stay, & shop on Cape Cod

Did you know? 
You can use your WPL library card to get discounted admission to local and regional museums! Take a look here 

Check out Free Fun Fridays sponsored by the Highland Foundation for free summer events all around Massachusetts!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Shirley Jackson: Master of Modern Gothic Fiction

Recently I picked up We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I thought it was the first thing I’d read by her, but after searching her name I realized that wasn’t true. She’s also the author of “The Lottery”, a short story that I (and most likely you) was assigned to read back in school. Maybe because it was so long ago, or maybe because I didn’t expect to read anything shocking for school, the story didn’t stand out to me. So imagine my surprise when I learned that, when the New Yorker published it back in 1948, the magazine got the most letters in response to “The Lottery” than it ever had at that time. They received 450 letters from all over the world: 25 states, 2 territories, and 6 foreign countries. Most of the letters expressed anger at the story, and the Union of South Africa even banned it.

I also learned that Mrs. Jackson was the author of The Haunting of Hill House, which was later made into the movie The Haunting. Stephen King is quoted as saying that The Haunting of Hill House is “one of the most important horror novels of the twentieth century”. Though I have not (yet) read the book, I loved the movie. It is a tale of taut psychological suspense, full of subtle and spooky special effects, and at the end darkness wins. Today Shirley Jackson is still considered a master of modern gothic fiction: a writer who focused on the evil nature of humans.

Characters from the movie The Haunting.
I learned all of this as I was entranced by We Have Always Lived in the Castle. The novel is about two sisters, Constance and Mary Katherine (also known as Merricat). It starts with Merricat going grocery shopping in town. She’s tense. The townspeople don’t like her. Soon it comes out that four members of her family died from arsenic poisoning. Constance was accused and then acquitted, but the taunts of the townspeople have continued and worn on them over the years. Because of the bad press during the trial and the rejection of the townspeople, the sisters are isolated in their house along with their uncle Julian, who is unwell, and Merricat’s cat, Jonas.

The story is told from Merricat’s point of view. The mix of her hatred for the townspeople along with her fairy-like imaginings makes her an interesting character: dangerous, dreamy, and childlike. The relationship between her and her sister is intensely close, and Constance’s sweet demeanor is a good contrast to Merricat’s darker tone. I don’t want to give the story away, but I do think you should try it. Its themes of suspicion and alienation are problems Shirley Jackson dealt with in real life, giving authenticity to the uneasiness in the pages.

*Please note that some of this information was found using the online database Gale – Biography in Context through the library. You should try it too!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

WooReads Patron Book Reviews: Current & Former Bestsellers

This week we have a selection of patron reviews on bestsellers: some new, some old, some fiction, and some nonfiction. Take a look and see if there's something you'd like to try. And if you haven't heard, thanks to all your help and hard work we reached our community wide goal of 5,000 books read by May 31st! It's smooth sailing from here, and we'll draw two Grand Prize winners of a Kindle Paperwhite at the end of the month. Until then, there's still time to read and log. Twenty books logged puts you in the Grand Prize drawing: Keep your eyes peeled for our Summer Reading program too!  We have more challenges, more prizes, and lots of great programs.

Happy Reading!

The Woman In The Window
By A.J. Finn
A woman struggles with agoraphobia and alcoholism, but she peeps on her neighbors. What is real and what isn’t? The ending is a shocker. The epilogue is uninformed re: recovery.

~ Judi P. 

I'll Be Gone In The Dark
By Michelle McNamara
Great writing! Thrilling! I savored every page.

~Christine J.

Little Fires Everywhere
By Celeste Ng
I really enjoyed reading this book. It almost reminded me of a mystery novel. I was wondering who started the little fires from the beginning all the way to the end of the book. Very good read and I highly recommend it.

~ Amber B.

The Library Book
By Susan Orlean
Susan Orlean’s approach to this story about the largest library fire in the history of the United States was presented with an abundance of depth and perspective. The incident was news but she allowed it to become a mesmerizing story of the people and the history behind the news. I became so immersed in the story I forgot it was a true story . Ms. Orleans brings the reader to a place of where she allows us to feel her emotions and understands the reasons for her passion for them. I as a lifetime librarian and passionate library user have an even deeper respect for the privilege of having our public libraries and librarians after reading this book.

~ Mary Jo M.

18th Abduction
By James Patterson
3 teachers are missing, where did they go? Lindsey investigates and her husband Joe is on another case of a suspected war criminal. Both cases end up combining. Lots of excitement, and terror. Will it finally be solved and the bad guys punished? Leaves you hanging until the end.

~ Karen S.

The Jungle
By Upton Sinclair
An amazing book, great critique of capitalism and corruption in turn of the century Chicago.

~ Lavinia P.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

WooReads Patron Book Reviews: From Page to Screen

This week's selection of WooReads Patron Reviews features books that were made into movies.  Our list features everything from nonfiction, to horror, and young adult titles that any adult can enjoy.  We're also very happy to announce we're only 175 books away from reaching our community goal of 5,000 books read by the end of May!  You rock, WooReaders!  Keep reading and keep logging at  If you haven't joined WooReads yet, there's still time to log what you've read going back to September 2018.  As you may know, our Grand Prize this year is a Kindle Paperwhite.

Happy Reading!

By Laurie Halse Anderson
This has been on my TBR for some time now. I was really hesitant to read this because of the subject matter and didn't know if it'd be too emotional/graphic/disturbing, etc. With that said, it wasn't any of those things for me. It was beautifully written and handled with great care.

~ Mary T.

Boy Erased: A Memoir 
By Garrard Conley
This autobiography is about Garrard Conley's experience with ex-gay therapy. As part of a Baptist family, and the son of a well respected Pastor, Garrard was told either get therapy for his homosexual feelings or his college wouldn't be paid for after he was outed to his parents by the man who raped him. I found this story profoundly sad and found myself feeling frustrated for Garrard. As a queer women who is supported by their family, and the parent of sexual and gender expressive children, I had moments feeling true anger towards his parents, and disgust for the Love In Action organization. This story is vital now with so much at stake for our LGBTQIA communities. You can't change your skin. You can't pray it away. And you are vital and perfect just as you are.

~ Krystal L.

The Haunting Of Hill House 
By Shirley Jackson
Decent horror story. The house seems to be the spirit. It is a dark and spooky presence. Does it let them go or keep them? You don’t find out until the very end.

~ Karen S.

Bridge To Terabithia 
By Katherine Patterson
Written for young people - to be savored by someone of any age.

~ Mary R.

Hidden Figures 
By Margot Lee Shetterly
This book is well written and it is definitely more detailed than the movie. You are able to learn about more women than the three from the movie. I’m so happy someone wrote a book about how black women contributed to science and NASA flights!

~ Amber B.

The Hate U Give 
By Angie Thomas
Amazing book, as usual way better than the movie which was great too by the way! Angie Thomas is phenomenal, can't wait to read what she writes next!

~ Jasmine A.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Rebuilding Notre Dame in 5 years; really?

The estimate that Notre-Dame de Paris could be rebuilt in 5 years was so ludicrous, even  French President Emmanuel Macron changed his mind about his own estimate. Now he says 20 years should suffice. To many, including critics and historians, 20 years is an insult.

The original construction took 182 years. Why did it take that long? And why is it okay to be taking shortcuts now?

Many people argue that we have better materials now, better transportation and better communication; all of which are true. The construction of one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals, however, depended on an interwoven community of master builders, masons, master craftsmen, engineers, and three generations of architects.

Something seems awry, but a difference of 162 years? I can imagine that today's engineers might be tempted to cut corners or use substandard materials to make the deadline.

Part of the bias stems from our knowledge of history. Notre Dame was built during the Medieval Era. This is an time notorious for a lack of insight, intelligence, and depth of knowledge. The Dark Ages, as it is called, is considered a period when the growth of knowledge was minimal over thousands of years. 

However, during this period the printing press was invented; practically singlehandedly disseminating the written word. The Medieval period also gave birth to eyeglasses, paper money and, of course, the gothic cathedral. How could an entire era of people "in the dark" have created such beauty?

Lastly, I wouldn't underestimate the crafting ability of the cathedral builders. If it took 182 years to build Notre Dame, there were probably many reasons. If the coming construction could lose focus of the deadline and the bottom line, they could focus on creating great beauty that can withstand war and poverty and touch people's lives, as did the previous Notre-Dame.

 Paris from the ground up, by James H. McGregor

726.609 SCHUTZ


Notre-Dame de Paris, by Richard Winston

726.6 W783n

Handbook to life in the medieval world, by Madeleine Pelner Cosman


WooReads Patron Book Reviews: Nonfiction Roundup

Here are some nonfiction books recommended by patrons like you! We’ve got everything from a music biography, to art in WW II, a maid’s memoir, urban agriculture, and authors with cats! And did you know we only have 449 books before we hit our goal of 5,000 books logged by the end of May? Keep reading and keep logging, WooReaders: If you still haven’t joined WooReads, remember that you can log items read back to September 2018. That Kindle Paperwhite Grand Prize prize is just around the corner!

Happy Reading!

Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest By Hanif Abdurraqib
One of the best books I have read in a long time. It is essential reading for anyone from the Tribe era but I highly recommend the book to anybody. Hanif is a genius at making profound statements with Tribe & his own history.

~Stephen B.

Saving Mona Lisa: The Battle To Protect The Louvre And Its Treasures During WW II 
By Gerri Chanel
Saving Mona Lisa is a fascinating non-fiction prequel to The Monuments Men. The author makes the story of how the French were able to protect the contents of the Louvre Museum from destruction. Long before WWII broke out, museum officials had begun planning how to evacuate and keep safe the many works of art housed in the Louvre. As the war began, hundreds of museum employees and volunteers packed away and moved thousands of paintings, sculptures and other masterpieces away from Paris. Among the dangers they would face were bombs, potential thieves, unreliable trucks, electric cables, floods and avaricious Nazis trying to build their art collections by stealing from the Louvre's vaults.

~Mary R.

Food and the City: Urban Agriculture and the New Food Revolutio
By Jennifer Cockrall-King
Enjoyed this ride through the urban agriculture movement happening in different parts of the world. Uplifting and motivational; makes me want to start my own farm.

~Camila G.

By Stephanie Land
Powerful! I'm following her on Instagram! She is using her voice and experience for social and economic change and equality!

~ Christine J.

Writers and Their Cats 
By Alison Nastasi
A quick read, fun book. We all think our cats are special, all seem to have the same snobby traits but make us feel special when they let us pat and enjoy them.

~Karen S.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

WooReads Patron Book Reviews: Historical Fiction

Our WooReads Adult Reading Challenge is winding down, but keep reading, keep logging, and keep sending in book reviews like these!  This week's theme is Historical Fiction, and this fiction set everywhere from China, to Australia, to Russia, and Spain.

With 690 books left to log before the end of May, we're reviewing feedback on what this community reading challenge meant to you.  Many of you said that this challenge motivated you to read more, to try different things, that you had fun and enjoyed seeing the community work towards a goal.  Thank you for your kind words!  We're in this together until the end of the month, and don't forget the Grand Prize is a Kindle Paperwhite!

Happy Reading!

Jade Dragon Mountain 
By Elsa Hart
This was recommended to me by a friend. I don't usually read stories that involve Chinese history or culture, because I find it hard to penetrate. But she said it was good, so I tried it ~ and it was good. It's a mystery novel set many centuries ago (15th?). I really liked the main character, Li Du.

I think what helped to make it appealing to me is that the author allowed them to use informal language when they were speaking informally, vs. the very formal, nuanced language (which is present in formal settings, but the nuances were explained).

There are 3 books in this series. C/W Mars only has 2, but I am hoping I will eventually be able to read them all.

~ Judi P.

Only Killers and Thieves 
By Paul Howarth
This debut novel is an engaging cross between Huck Finn and No Country For Old Men set in the 19th Australian outback. The unfortunate protagonist is a young boy having to grow up much too quickly in a harsh environment. Not an easy read but a rewarding read.

~ William C.

The Lilac Girls 
By Martha Hall Kelly
A fictitious telling of some very real people and one horrifying time in history. The character portrayals were intimate and fleshed out. Even the fictitious characters breathed life. What hit me the most was the stark difference of privilege the Americans retained throughout the war, especially the rich. Only added to the shame of us becoming involved only when it involved us personally, and not to save the lives of the German, Polish, Romanian and many other people. I live not too far from Bethlehem, CT and I think I would like to visit 'The Hay'.

~ Krystal L.

The Horseman's Song 
By Ben Pastor
The Horseman's Song is an well written historical mystery based in Spain during its Civil War. The protagonist is Martin Bora, a German officer fighting for Franco, who stumbles across a body and begins to investigate. The deceased is revealed to be the poet Frederico Garcia Lorca, Republican sympathizer, who had been hiding out in a village near the front lines of the war. To solve the mystery of who killed the poet, Bora must cooperate with another foreigner, from Vermont, who is fighting against Bora and the forces of Generalissimo Franco. Who killed Lorca and why? Both detectives will be changed by what they learn and by their collaborating to discover the murderer. The mystery is exciting and fast paced, though fictionalized.

~ Mary R.

A Gentleman in Moscow 
By Amor Towles
I enjoyed this very much. Good story, well written and I learned a lot about Russia in the early 20th century. Recommend.

~ Patricia A.

Before We Were Yours 
By Lisa Wingate
It was heartbreaking and soul filling all in one book. The back and forth between the past and present made for an interesting dynamic that I couldn't put down.

~ Kimberly F.