Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb

Cover of "Nobody Will Tell You This But Me"

This is a touching remembrance of the author’s beloved grandmother, Bobby Bell. Bess Kalb saved every voicemail her grandmother had ever sent to her. This book is written around these sometimes explosively funny and sometimes very opinionated but always from a grandmother’s heart full of love, voicemails. If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to have that one person in your life who loves you and watches out for you more than anyone you will ever meet again and give you advice that no one else would ever dare to, this book will resonate with many touching emotions.

– Joanie, BPL

The Devil Wins by Robert B. Parker

Parker has written many books, and Brimfield Library has a group of them.

This one is actually written by Reed Farrel Coleman, his second book continuing the Jesse Stone protagonist. If you enjoy reading in sequence, Blind Spot was Coleman’s first Stone book. I have not read this/these authors prior to picking up this book. Truth be told, I liked the cover!!

Paradise, MA is a coastal town, with a small population and very old roots. The residents are a tight-knit, and tight-lipped, community. Chief Stone is a newcomer, and as such, he is still making his way through the old bonds, working to understand whom to trust, and what to be wary of.

There are many secrets, lots of characters, and a fairly gritty beginning to the story, but I hung on & was glad that I did. There are similarities to Brimfield, given old and enduring relationships, some whispered secrets, and warmhearted townspeople.

– Beth, Mystery Buff BC

Out Past the Wires by Rod Picott

Cover of "Out Past the Wires"

This is a beautifully written collection of short stories by one of my favorite singer/songwriters. I loved reading the stories behind some of his songs. These short stories reveal the heartache, misery and experiences of everyday working class Americans. The author’s insight, wit and compassion make these stories and characters so very real and fascinating that I’d like a full novel to be written around each one.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Cover of "A Great and Terrible Beauty"

Sixteen-year-old Gemma Doyle has lived in India her whole life, but dreams of moving to England. The year is 1895. Unfortunately, after the strange death of her mother, she’s shipped off to England due to her terrible change of fate. She’s accepted into a boarding school, where she is expected to become a proper young lady. Her transition into her new life is not an easy one, as she finds the other girls are not exactly accepting of her presence. She begins to experience strange, disturbing visions. To make matters worse, she’s been followed from Indian by a young man who watches her from a distance and warns her about the visions – as to why, she’s not sure.

As you can probably tell, there’s a lot of mystery and secrets in this book, and a little bit of romance. Gemma’s an interesting character, and a little hard to like at first, but I soon sympathized with her as she tried to deal with the difficult situation she’d been dealt as best as she could. The behavior of her fellow schoolmates was quite irritating at times, but these are teenage girls, after all!

This book is the first in a trilogy. Overall I enjoyed the book, but it’s not a favorite. I’m interested in what comes next in the story and may revisit the series later on.

– Anne, BPL

Murder in G Major by Alexia Gordon

Cover of "Murder In G Major"

Gethsemane Brown is an African American classical musician/conductor. She takes a job as assistant musical director for a big orchestra in Europe. On the trip over, her luggage is stolen, her job was given away to the directors mistress and Gethsemane is left stranded in a little Irish village taking any job she can get. She is music director for an all boys school and house sitting for the house of her late musical idol and village celebrity. She finds that the house comes complete with the snarky ghost of it’s previous owner who convinces her to prove that he did not kill his wife and then commit suicide.

This book is AWESOME!!!! The characters are engaging, the story is very well written. The book is hard to put down. There is no shortage of twists and turns to the plot, and once the mystery is resolved, the book continues to evolve and then gets you to thinking, “I wonder where this will take me” and the book ends. NOOOOOOOO! I had no choice! I had to get book 2! VERY well crafted. Gordon is a masterful storyteller. I hope you give this series a try.

– Carol, Mystery Buff BC

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Cover of "The Graveyard Book"

This is a darkly entertaining, witty adventure of a young boy who is raised by the inhabitants of a graveyard. As he is raised from infanthood into a young adult, he gets to know all of the spirits and creatures of this place. Most graveyard inhabitants befriend him and become his protectors against a murderous sect who view this child as a threat to the sect’s existence. It is excellently written and will send superb goosebumps down any reader’s spine as we are taken on this chillingly fascinating adventure.

– Joanie, BPL

Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life by John McCain and Marshall Salter

Cover of "Why Courage Matters"

In this collection of true life stories of exemplary people who stood up to injustice, corruption and evil we get to understand why they chose to fight courageously for what they believed was right. One conclusion the authors come to is that courage does not exist without fear. The people in these stories knew they were facing a danger that would expose them to torture or death. They realized that they needed to fight for their beliefs despite sacrificing their comforts of a regular life and sometimes knowing they would be killed for standing up for what they know is right. These are uplifting stories and we see how these brave heroes live their lives with dignity, honor and integrity. We see how people, despite being fearful, are able to live a life with a noble purpose and to move beyond the fear in order to take action to defend decent moral values.

– Joanie, BPL

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Cover of Wuthering Heights

One of my quarantine books was Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I had gotten it through a Blind Date With a Book program from another library, taken in by the vague promise of a semi-haunted gothic manor in the countryside. Imagine my surprise when I unwrapped it to find Wuthering Heights. They tricked me into taking out a classic!

Wuthering Heights is a book that I somehow never read in school, and something that never sounded appealing to me – the idea of a tragic romance wasn’t really my style, and I was used to seeing romanticized images of the famed characters of the story, Cathy and Heathcliff. However, I was determined to finally read it, and what better time to do so than when you’re stuck indoors most of the day due to quarantine?

I was wrong about this book. It’s not a romance. There is romance of a sort in here, but this is a dark, bleak book, and very uncomfortable. It’s a book about abuse, anger, obsession, and revenge. It’s difficult to like any of the characters in the book save maybe a few – and even there I’m not quite sure. Because of the subject matter, it wasn’t an easy book to read. I’m not even sure I can honestly say I enjoyed reading it. Do we ever really enjoy reading or watching difficult, dark things? But I don’t think that makes them any less worthy of our attention.

So, how do I feel about it? This is a question I’ve been thinking over the past few days since finishing the book. I believe I liked the book, in a sense. I feel it was a good book, perhaps even a great book. I don’t know if I’ll ever revisit it because it was so dark. But I’m glad that I read it, and when a book has you thinking about it days after you’ve finished, I think that says something about it. There’s a sort of wildness to the book that is difficult to explain.

Included in my edition were a couple forwards by Charlotte Brontë, author of Jane Eyre and perhaps the most famous Brontë sibling. It also included an introduction by another author. All of this was interesting to read in order to get an insight in both Emily Brontë’s life and of the entire Brontë family. This has made me a whole lot more interested in learning more about the family, and of Emily Brontë.

If you ask me in a week, or in a month, or in a year, it wouldn’t shock me if my opinion of this book changes over time. I do recommend checking it out at some point if this book at all intrigues you (maybe not during quarantine – perhaps go for something lighter!). And if you do end up reading it, I’d also recommend looking up Kate Beaton’s funny webcomic portrayals of scenes from the book in her comic Hark! A Vagrant.

– Anne, BPL

Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams

Cover of Murder In the Mystery Suite

This is book one of six in the Book Retreat Mystery series.

Jane Steward, a widow with 6 yr old twin boys, runs Storyton Resort. Storyton is a resort that caters to people who love to read. It is situated in the hills of Virginia. Jane runs the resort with her Great Aunt and Uncle. Business is slow and to generate more revenue, Jane comes up with the idea of having a themed week. All guests are to come dressed as their favorite literary detective. The week goes well until one of the guests turns up dead.

I LOVE this book! As I write this review, I have not yet finished it. I was enjoying it as I do most all cozy mysteries, but without giving anything away, I got about a quarter of the way through the story and WOW! Something happens that adds a whole new dimension to the story. The book is very well written, the characters are wonderful and surprising. I can’t say enough about this book. Now I must stop this review and go finish reading the book. I hope you all give this a try and enjoy it as much as I do. I will definitely read the whole series.

– Carol, Mystery Buff BC

Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson

Cover of Phoebe and Her Unicorn

A while back, I was browsing through the stacks of a bookstore, looking for a good new comic to read. I love, love, love graphic novels and was hoping to find something new, and I soon found myself looking through the kids’ section, waiting for something to catch my eye. Cue Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson. The pink and sparkly cover featuring a happy girl and unicorn immediately caught my attention. And upon opening it, I saw an introduction from Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn, claiming, “…Phoebe and Her Unicorn is nothing less than the best comic strip to come along since Calvin and Hobbes.” Very high praise, and, being a Calvin and Hobbes fan myself, I decided to check it out.

This book is the first of a number of collections of the comic strip. We’re introduced to a precocious 9-year-old girl named Phoebe who one day meets an arrogant, self-absorbed unicorn named Marigold Heavenly Nostrils (no, really). After inadvertently saving the unicorn, Phoebe is granted one wish, and the result is a friendship between the unusual pair. The rest of the book introduces Phoebe’s family and classmates as she navigates the world with her new unicorn pal.

I love this comic! It’s legitimately funny and took me by surprise. I highly recommend it!

– Anne, BPL