Monthly Archives: May 2015

Customer Review: Dead Boy

DeadBoyDead Boy

Laurel Gale


Crown Books

Available September 29, 2015

Dead Boy, by Laurel Gale, is a combination of adventure, bravery, and friendship. It may seem like your typical story of a middle school boy, except this middle school boy is dead! Crow Darlingson stinks. He has maggots crawling in and out of his body. His body parts fall off easily, and are literally hanging from threads attaching them to his body. Imagine if every so often, you had to ask your mom to sew on your arm, or leg! Crow hardly goes anywhere, and he barely ever goes outside! He longs for a friend, and when a new neighbor moves in next door, they end up becoming friends! They go through adventures facing bullies, and a mysterious creature! For those that enjoy adventure, and humor, Dead Boy is the book for you! I thought this book was amazing, and I would rate it as a 10 out of 10!

~ Olivia, age 12

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Staff Display: Matters of Faith


I wanted to put together some books that explored the idea of faith, but I wasn’t entirely comfortable with anything too overtly religious. The fact that I hesitated made me wonder why I felt this way. In New England, at least, we do not spend a lot of time publicly talking about our own personal religious beliefs (unless we are a politician). Why don’t we talk about our faith? Is it because faith and religion have become so polarized in our society? Even the words “faith” and “religion” are loaded with symbolism. We make so many assumptions about others based on what we know, or think we know, about their religious beliefs (or lack of them).

From the Table:

First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander M.D.

Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence by Karen Armstrong

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan

Glimpsing Heaven: The Stories and Science of Life After Death by Judy Bachrach

Nine Parts Of Desire: The Hidden World Of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks

Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death by Katy Butler

Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life by Ira Byock

Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth about Everything by Barbara Ehrenreich

How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee by Bart D. Ehrman

Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Talmud A Biography: Banned, censored and burned: The book they couldn’t suppress by Harry Freedman

Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise by Thich Nhat Hanh

Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul by Tony Hendra

Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Guide for the Perplexed by Dara Horn

Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott

Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott

Jewish Annotated New Testament: New Revised Standard Version Bible Translation by Amy Levine, Ed.

Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo

Lunch with Buddha by Roland Merullo

Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

Religion of One’s Own: A Guide to Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World by Thomas Moore

Pagans: The End of Traditional Religion and the Rise of Christianity by James J. O’Donnell

Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Opening Heaven’s Door: Investigating Stories of Life, Death, and What Comes After by Patricia

Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom a Toltec Wisdom Book by Don Miguel Ruiz

Frozen Rabbi by Steve Stern

New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

Age of Atheists: How We Have Sought to Live Since the Death of God by Peter Watson

Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Night by Elie Wiesel (new translation

Holy Bible: King James Version

DK Illustrated Family Bible

Other books that I would recommend:

  • The Sparrow, by Maria Doria Russell, about a Jesuit priest who travels to the Alpha Centauri solar system, in a misguided attempt to connect with a culture of artists.
  • Vatican Waltz, by Roland Merullo, explores what might happen when a modern day miracle threatens to upend the Catholic church.
  • American Saviour, also by Roland Merullo, explores what might happen if Jesus Christ appeared in modern day America.

Lysbeth Abrams

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Customer Review: A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic

TaleofHighlyUnusualMagicA Tale of Highly Unusual Magic

Lisa Papademetriou



Available October 6, 2015

In the book A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic, by Lisa Papademetriou, two unsuspecting girls both find a copy of a strange book that seems to write and continue its own story day after day. It can only mean one thing. Magic! The two girls, Kai and Leila, both on vacation, follow the story, while also facing unusual events themselves. The thing is, neither girl knows that the other one has a copy of the book! Between Kai’s adventures, like searching for a supposedly extinct moth with her friend Doodle, and Leila’s journeys, like tending to a sick goat she accidentally bought, this book is a must read!  It takes some turns that you are not at all suspecting!  A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic is thrilling, and great for those that like adventure, and a little bit of mystery and magic, too!  It is great for any age, and it is fantastic!

~ Olivia, age 12

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Staff Review: Rethinking Narcicism

RethinkingNarcissismRethinking Narcissism

Dr. Craig Malkin



Available July 15, 2015

You are a narcissist. Feel offended after reading that sentence? Do not be! Dr. Malkin argues that we are all narcissistic, which, in fact, may not be entirely bad. Some narcissism is good and can be beneficial to both you and society as a whole. By reading this book, you will be able to take the “Narcissism Spectrum” test which will, in turn, allow you to realize more about yourself and those around you. Although this book will not replace a conversation with a trained professional, it will give you the tools you need to incite change. You do not need to be a medical professional to enjoy this book. Read it and be pleasantly surprised, or not, that loving yourself – just enough – is a necessary, if precarious, fact of life.

~ Rebecca

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Customer Review: The Thing About Jellyfish

ThingAboutJellyfishThe Thing About Jellyfish

Ali Benjamin

Little, Brown for Young Readers


Available September 2015

The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin, is an intriguing novel told in an interesting format. Suzy Swanson has turned into an un-popular, weird girl at her school ever since her ex-best friend Franny Jackson died. Suzy tries to stay “invisible” in her school, and never talks to anyone unless she really has to. Suzy believes Franny died from a jellyfish sting, and she researches like crazy to prove that her theory is correct. Suzy goes to extremely high measures to prove this hypothesis!

Each part of this book starts off with a step of the Scientific Method, with a short quote from Suzy’s current teacher. I thought this format was interesting and cool. Also, within all of the chapters, you learned a lot about jellyfish. This book is great for people that like a heart-felt novel, and also great for those that want to learn about jellyfish! I would, without a doubt, rate this book a ten out of ten!

~ Olivia, age 12

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Customer Review: Becoming Jinn

BecomingJinnBecoming Jinn

Lori Goldstein

Feiwel & Friends


Available Now

Upon finishing this amazing book the only thought running through my head was “please tell me there is a sequel!!” This book has so many amazing qualities such as being based in Massachusetts, a love triangle, and a race of genies or Jinns. When Ara wakes up on her sixteenth birthday she is transformed into a true Jinn with magical abilities and a new face. In one summer her whole life changes she becomes closer with her Zar sisters, finds herself in a confusing love triangle with her neighbor and a life guard, and discovers that she is more powerful than an average Jinn. This book should be at the very top of your TBR list!

~ Emily, 17

Note: Meet Lori Goldstein at Eight Cousins on Saturday, May 9 at 4pm!

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Staff Display: Books in Translation


I love translated fiction. I love reading about people from places other than the United States. Reading translated literature makes me feel connected to the rest of the world. But I always feel that I am missing something. While words can be translated, the same is not always true for the background of culture and history. Often there is subtext that lies beneath the visible words. So when I read translations, I try to keep in mind that I may not be truly understanding what the author is telling me, because I really am not a member of the club. I am an interloper, observing from afar.

I love the different sensibilities that exist in literature from another culture.  However, it is very easy to make assumptions about a culture that seems similar to ours. Like France. I am quite fond of French novels. They frequently surprise me. On the surface, they often look like lovely little confections. However, appearances can be deceiving. They often end badly. Issues remain unresolved. Characters remain in hopeless situations. Nothing happens. This existential mind-set would never fly with most American readers. We always think a situation can be improved if we just put on our happy face, preferably with the use of some good old elbow grease and some bootstrap-pulling. Other cultures are more fatalistic.

The darker side of the Scandinavians appeals to me. I am not so fond of some of the quirky Scandinavian literature. I like quirk as well as anyone (preferably with a touch of satire), but lately it verges on the edge of twee. Ick.

HistoryofMoneySome books I recommend:

Days in the History of Silence, by Merethe Lindstrom

Out Stealing Horses, by Per Petterson (and everything else he has written)

Hunting and Gathering, by Anna Gavalda

Austerlitz, by W. G. Sebald

The Possibility of an Island, by Michel Houellenbecq

And a new one coming out this June that I am beyond excited about, by Alan Pauls, a South American author: A History of Money!!

Lysbeth Abrams

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Staff Review: Smartest Kids in the World

SmartestKidsintheWorldThe Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way

Amanda Ripley

Simon & Schuster


Available now

Can you imagine a teacher earning 4 million dollars? Can you imagine allowing your son or daughter to buy a pillow made for sleeping in class? How would you react to your son or daughter failing a class? As a teacher, how would you feel failing a student? How do you feel about the ones you have, intentionally or unintentionally, let fall behind? How do you adapt your teaching style so that every child succeeds and wants to succeed?

Amanda Ripley’s book made me ask myself those questions and a plethora of others.

Teachers have one of the most important jobs in the world. Students need good teachers and we, as adults, need to make sure children learn from the best every day.

In this book, Amanda Ripley highlights the adventures of Kim, Eric, and Tom, three American teenagers, as they spend academic years abroad in Finland, South Korea, and Poland respectively. Through their stories, Ripley highlights the pros and the cons of the educational systems in those “smarter countries,” while comparing them with the pros and cons of our own system. She makes this comparison in a compelling way, so compelling to me that I, in turn, am challenging you to read her book and to make changes yourself.

If you care about the future of our nation’s children, read this book! ~ Rebecca

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Morse Pond Review: Anyone But Ivy Pocket

AnyoneButIvyPocketAnyone But Ivy Pocket

Caleb Krisp

Greenwillow Books


Available now

Ivy Pocket is a smart girl, and she doesn’t hide it. Ivy is abandoned by her boss because of her loudmouth behavior and is sent on a quest by the richest lady in town. She is supposed to protect a cursed and valuable necklace, without anyone stealing it. Along the way Ivy deals with surprising meetings with ghosts, a cranky grandmother, and misunderstood friends. People who like delightful stories,  humor, and adventure should read this book.

~ Grace, age 10

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