May the Force Be With You

It’s back! This Friday, February 23 from 1pm-2:30pm at Topsham Public Library is the 3rd annual Friday of the Force. This event is open to all ages and is one of the favorites here.

Dress up as your favorite Star Wars character and play Star Wars themed games, enjoy Star Wars themed snacks and join in Star Wars themed activities.

You don’t want to miss this galactic good time!

For Romantics and Non-Romantics Alike, Topsham Public Library is Here For You!

I find, in my small circle of friends, that people either love or hate Valentine’s Day. No matter what side you’re on, Topsham Public Library is here for you!

You want a love story? Try one of these Romance Writers of America Award Winners:

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare or No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean or Born in Ice by Nora Roberts

Not interested in romance? Well what about True Crime like:

Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham or Midnight in Peking by Paul French or The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber?

There is also a plethora of other non-fiction you might prefer like:

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson or Close to Shore: A True Story of Terror in and Age of Innocence by Michael Capuzzo or Idiot Brain – What Your Head is Really Up To by Dean Burnett

Maybe a good scare is more your style. Try:

The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike or Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty or Creepers by David Morrell

Maybe you don’t even want to read. We’ve got movies, music, magazines, and audiobooks. So, no matter what you think of Valentine’s Day, come on by Topsham Public Library.

Are You a Movie Buff?

Are you a movie buff? Does Oscar season excite you? Below is a list of all the previous Academy Award winners so you can watch them and get caught up before the big event on March 4! Remember, if Topsham Public Library doesn’t have it, you can request in through Interlibrary Loan (ILL).

I goofed.


I totally dropped the ball and forgot to include Linda’s Top Picks of 2017! So without further adieu and with my sincerest apologies, here are Linda’s top picks:



Glass Houses by Louise Penny: Once again Ms. Penny is number 1! Her use of historical knowledge and classical literature build a frame for the exploration of human nature and our deepest motives. She is an incredible wordsmith turning and twisting words into succinct declarations with the tap of one letter – “clever, cleaver words” that cut straight to the heart of the matter. She uses simple children’s rhymes to remind us of what we all know, but don’t want to think about. Once again her plot is tight and complex, taking us to the brink and pulling us back again with a sudden burst of humor. Inspector Gamache and his entire cast of characters are at their finest in a deadly match with infinite risk and consequences for the idyllic Three Pines and those they love most.


Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan: A down and out young man hangs himself in the attic of the bookstore and is found by Lydia, one of the cashiers. He was one of her favorites and the tragedy hits her hard. Why would Joey do that? Things get really strange when Joey’s landlady finds Lydia and tells her she is Joey’s contact person and she has to come get his stuff. In his belongings Lydia finds a picture of her 10 year old self on her birthday. Lydia has a secret past that no one is supposed to know about. How did Joey get this picture and what did he know about her? These questions lead Lydia on a return journey to the worst moment of her life; the murder of her childhood friend, Carol, which has never been solved. The plot carries this book with plenty of twists to confound and puzzles to unravel. This book reminds us that every action we take sets in motion a ring of consequences, for good or for evil.


Pulse by Felix Francis: This book made my 2017 Top Books list for one reason only – it surprised me! In some respects it is quintessential Francis, horses, racing, murder, tough protagonist. It was like visiting an old friend and quite enjoyable, until several pages in – a brand new twist, one I never saw coming. This hero is flawed, like most, but in a rather unique way. It took me places I’ve never been and gave me new insights into human frailty and strength. Felix Francis would make his father proud with this one.


Demon Spirit, Devil Sea by Charlene D’Avanzo: My favorite thing about this book is the setting. It takes place on an island off the coast of British Columbia in Canada and centers around the culture of the native people there and the impact of global climate change on their lives and the choices they face. Once again Ms. D’Avanzo educates through entertainment. The story was engaging, catching me up in the swirling waters of the first kayak trip and carrying me through to the conclusion. Her protagonist, Mara Tusconi is quickly becoming my friend. I admire her principles and her courage in carrying them out. This is the second book in this series and I can’t wait for the next one.


Loch Ness: I just discovered this DVD in our collection. It is brand new and it is quite a treat. In a way it reminds me of Broadchurch because it takes place in a small village, in which everyone has secrets. Once again we are dealing with a cunning serial killer. This first season kept me on the edge of my seat, so to speak. If I had the time I would have watched all six episodes in one sitting. The acting is very good and I didn’t guess the killer until the final reveal.

Topsham Public Library Closed Week of January 29th

Have you heard yet?! Topsham Public Library is closed next week! We will re-open for normal business hours on Tuesday, February 6, 2018.

What’s going on? We are getting a paint job! Freshening up and doing some cosmetic repairs. The Crooker Gallery has already been painted and the Young Adult room has its first coat of paint. Next week, the scaffolding will go up and ceilings and the main part of the library will be painted.

The staff do not get the week off, though. We will complete our annual safety training requirements, participate in staff meetings, and try and keep ILLs and our collections organized so we can re-open without a hitch.

Come in and stock up and see the improvements that have been completed so far!

Just to re-iterate: we are open today, Wednesday, January 24 until 8pm. We are open Thursday, January 25 9am-8pm, Friday, January 26 9am-5pm, and Saturday, January 27 9am-4pm. We will close at 4pm on Saturday, and not re-open to the public until Tuesday, February 6 at 9am.


Top Picks of 2017, Part 3


And last, but not least!



Lynne’s Top Picks:


Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is the first in a Young Adult series. Six outcasts and a heist. What more do you need?


Replica by Lauren Oliver is told from two different points of view. Haven is a peaceful looking island from the outside, but it is a compound where human replicas are made and raised. What happens when two of the replicas escape?



It’s Halloween 1988 and four 12-year old newspaper girls uncover a story. Paper Girls Vols. 1-3 by Brian Vaughan is a graphic novel series that is worth the read.



Full Wolf Moon by Lincoln Child is part of a series, but it also works well as a stand alone, so if you want to try it but don’t want to commit, go ahead and give it a go. Jeremy Logan heads to the Adirondacks to work on his book, but when a body is discovered he is called to help in the investigation.



We Have Always Lived In the Castle by Shirley Jackson was a hot read among the staff and made it onto Lynne’s top picks list.



Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK by Mark Manson was on Cyndi’s list and has made it onto Lynne’s list, too.


The life of Queen Elizabeth II beginning with her marriage to Prince Philip, The Crown Season 1 is binge worthy as the cast, the costumes, the sets, and the story keeps one wanting more.



Emma’s Top Picks:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. When I grow up, I want to be Shirley Jackson. So it is surprising it has taken me so long to read her classic story of Merricat and her sister, Constance. This book is a creepy masterpiece and now my favorite Shirley Jackson work. I am only sorry that I didn’t read it years ago.


Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. I am a big fan of Saunders’ work, and this one did not disappoint. It’s hard to explain just how truly strange and affecting this book is. Set in a graveyard over one night, it recounts the (true) story of Lincoln going to visit his son’s body after the young boy had passed away. The novel is structured from quotes (both real and imagined) and is told through the eyes of the ghosts who inhabit the graveyard. I also recommend listening to the audio book for different experience of the story. It features a cast of well-known people including Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Ben Stiller, Julianne Moore, Megan Mullally, Mary, Don Cheadle and many more.


Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix. Even if you’re not a fan of 70s/80s horror (and I am, I love those old covers, especially the fonts!), this is a well-written, informative and extremely entertaining book. Combining a look at some truly awesome covers—evil leprechauns, rabid slugs, murderous dolls and much, much more—with a heartfelt and extensive history of the horror boom in the 80s. This will appeal to anyone who spent their younger years glued to horror films like Nightmare on Elm Street and devouring Stephen King novels.


Sad Girl Poems by Christopher Soto. I came across this poet on twitter. This is their first chapbook that delves into domestic violence, queer youth homelessness and the suicide of a close friend. A powerful read puts you in the center of a life that you may never have experienced or had knowledge of. Simultaneously devastating and uplifting.

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Vol. 1 by Emil Ferris. This graphic novel is an astonishing piece of work. The artwork alone is mesmerizing, even if you don’t know that the artist had to teach herself to draw again after an illness paralyzed her. Art Spiegelman, creator of Maus has said, “Emil Ferris is one of the most important comics artists of our time.” As for the story, I literally couldn’t put this down. It tells the story of a young girl in late 60s Chicago trying to solve the murder of her upstairs neighbor, Anka, a holocaust survivor. Part crime noir, with reference to B-movie monsters and the reveal of Anka’s devastating back-story in Nazi Germany, this book explores relationships, gender and sexuality, race, fascism, body image, bullying, class, and a whole host of other issues without once making the reader feel like they are being lectured to. A warning though—part 2 is coming out in April, so be prepared to wait to know how the story ends.

Magdalene: Poems by Marie Howe. Marie Howe is my favorite poet so I was excited that she had a new collection out this year. I was not disappointed. Howe imagines the biblical figure, Mary Magdalene, navigating her way through ordinary, modern life. I would not hesitate to recommend any of this poet’s collections.


Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. This was a no-brainer for me. I’m a big fan of Neil Gaiman and I love Norse Mythology. Gaiman tells the old tales well without sugarcoating them for a modern audience.



Mariah’s Top Picks:


The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. Really, this whole series!  Also, WHEN IS THE NEXT BOOK GOING TO COME OUT?!?!



The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo. Beautiful and unsettling stories based on folk and fairytales from one of my favorite authors!



A Colony in a Nation by Christopher Hayes. An eye-opening perspective on our country – I couldn’t put this book down.



Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. A memoir written in verse, this amazing book is deeply moving and absolutely beautiful.



Refugee by Alan Gratz. Tells the stories of three refugee children from three different time periods.  This is the book I’m recommending to every human this year – READ IT!!


The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill. Beautiful language, endearing characters, magic, deep concepts, all wrapped up in a kids book – what’s not to love?!  This book won the Newbery medal and it DEFINITELY deserved it!




Thornhill by Pam Smy. Unexpectedly creepy, and extremely well-done!  This is a book that defies categorization – if you like strange formats you’ll probably like this!



Susan’s Top Picks:


Ernie’s Ark by Monica Wood. Wonderful, connected short stories by Maine author woods about perseverance, love and family.          


In the Land of Invisible Women by Qanta A. Ahmed. “In this stunningly written book, a Western trained Muslim doctor brings alive what it means for a woman to live in the Saudi Kingdom. I’ve rarely experienced so vividly the shunning and shaming, racism and anti-Semitism, but the surprise is how Dr. Ahmed also finds tenderness at the tattered edges of extremism, and a life-changing pilgrimage back to her Muslim faith.” – Gail Sheehy



Playing With Fire by Tess Gerritsen. Intriguing plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I loved the music, history, science and supernatural aspects thrown together. Great escape reading!



Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi CoatesAn important book about race as seen through the eyes of a black man trying to explain race relations to his son.




A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. High fantasy – fascinating and fast paced. I am excited that Emma gave me the first book in this series!



Well, that wraps up the Top Picks of 2017 from the staff at Topsham Public Library. What do you think? What would you add? Let us know. And happy reading in 2018!



Top Picks of 2017, Part 2

And the hits just keep on coming!



Julie’s Top Picks of 2017 are:


Determined to rid herself of the family curse that has doomed her family, Esther encounters a new phobia that is the worst one of them all: the fear of loving. Read all about it in A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland.



When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon is the story of two students who meet at a Stanford University summer program. Dimple endures pressure from her parents to find a suitable groom, and Rishi is encouraging her to enter an arranged marriage agreement with him. Trying to navigate culture, family, and love read to discover what Dimple decides to do.



As the author of a popular webcomic much of Eliza’s life is spent online. When a new boy enters her life, Eliza begins spending more time offline, but will that destroy her online life? Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia delves into the struggle to balance a teenager’s online life with her offline reality.




The keeper of secrets, love letters, and memories, a bookstore is the setting of this love story by Cath Crowley. Follow the story as teenagers Rachel and Henry find each other in Words in Deep Blue.



Graphic novel Saga Volume 7 by Brian Vaughan finishes Julie’s list.




Cyndi’s Top Picks:


Modern Death: How Medicine Changed the End of Life by Haidar Warraich explores the process of dying over the last one hundred years and the impact modern medicine has had on the process for better or for worse.



A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking In the Information Age by Daniel J. Levitin discusses misinformation and reliable information and argues that science is the foundation in critical thinking.



The alliance between Earth and Luna is threatened and an android, Iko, joins the hunt for the rogue leader that desires to end the alliance. If you enjoy graphic novels, and even if you don’t, give Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer a try.


Is it a book or is it a graphic novel? Most of the staff have read Thornhill by Pam Smy, and it made it onto Cyndi’s top picks list. Two stories told in parallel, one uses words and the other pictures.



Shape-shifters, zombies, and ghosts – what’s not to love? The Dire King by William Ritter is the last in the Jackaby series. Begin at the beginning with Jackaby or skip it and just see what happens in the end!



The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*uck: a Counterintuitive Approach To Living a Good Life by Mark Manson wraps up Cyndi’s list. The problem of happiness, realizing you’re not special, choices, genetics, victimhood, and the value of suffering are just a few of the ideas grappled with in this thought-provoking book.



Dave’s Top Picks:

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George delves into the friendship of two young men. Set in Maine in 1976, Robert and Nathan begin their friendship on the first day of eighth grade. They are faced with family tragedies, and through the struggles they learn about how far friendships can stretch.



If the debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, is any indication, Gail Honeyman will be a favorite author to many. Eleanor is a bit socially awkward, says what she thinks, and lives by a strict timetable, but when she meets Raymond, the IT guy, her world gets a little messy.




Another in the ever popular Three Pines Mystery series, Glass Houses by Louise Penny does not disappoint.



Knife Creek by Paul Doiron also made Dave’s list. The adventures continue for Mike Bowditch, Maine Game Warden, when he discovers the body of a baby while he is out hunting feral hogs. Rumor is that the mother died years earlier, but as Mike investigates, he discovers nothing is certain.



Lydia, a clerk at a bookstore, is shocked when a favorite patron kills himself. Through the possessions he bequeaths to her, Lydia looks for answers and attempts to get to know him. What she unearths surprises her and brings to light long forgotten memories from childhood. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is the first novel written by Matthew Sullivan.



In The Stolen Girls by Patricia Gibney, it all begins with the discovery of the body of a pregnant woman. Then another victim is discovered by the same person who discovered the first body. More girls go missing. Detective Parker has to work fast before more end up dead.




Sara Paretsky is author of the V.I. Warshawski mystery series. In Fallout, Warshawski leaves Chicago and heads to Kansas on the trail of a missing film student.




Cat’s Top Picks:


Wonder Woman (movie). She watched this in the theater 5 times!



The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin. Devastating and intricate story about an apocalypse, with geology-based magic and beautiful language. The books in order are: The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky.



Peel Away the Ivy by The Pattern Forms (album). They sound like a melancholy Radiohead song mixed with the Blade Runner soundtrack.




In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan. A very grumpy boy goes to a Lord of the Rings-esque magic school, shenanigans ensue.



The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. A retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses set in the Prohibition era.



Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick. In a sci-fi dystopia where rebellious women are sent to a dedicated prison planet, a group of prisoners stage a break out.

Top Picks of 2017

Here we go! As promised, over the next few weeks, I will be sharing Topsham Public Library Staff’s Top Picks of 2017.



I will get things rolling! Here are my Top Picks of 2017:

Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig is at the top of my Top Picks of 2017 list. Ivan Doig is one of my favorite authors because of the sense of place that grounds his novels and the insightful and witty characters of whom he writes. Doig passed away in April, 2015, and Last Bus to Wisdom was his final novel, so I waited until this year to read it as I didn’t want to rush it. Last Bus to Wisdom did not disappoint, and I felt like I was on that bus with Donal, an orphan living with his grandmother on a ranch, who must travel cross country to stay with a relative he has never met while his gram has surgery for “female trouble.” Those he meets along the way are well developed characters, and I wanted to hang out with them – well, most of them.


The first book written by Ruta Sepetys that I read was Between Shades of Gray (not to be confused with Fifty Shades of Grey) and I liked it, so when I saw she had written Salt to the Sea, I decided to try it. Sepetys only gets better. Salt to the Sea is set at the end of World War II and the story is told from four points of view. Each character is fleeing from the Russians and the Germans as the Russians advance westward to Germany, and they want to get to the Wilhelm Gustloff a refugee ship that will take them to safety. Sepetys, a daughter of a refugee herself, offers insight into the fate of those peoples, and nations, who were caught between Germany and Russia at the end of World War II. I listened to the audio book and highly recommend it. Whether you listen to it, or you read it, you don’t want to miss it.


Australian author, Markus Zusak, captured me with his book The Book Thief. With I Am the Messenger, Zusak does it again. Ed Kennedy, a cabdriver trying to mind his own business, finds himself stopping a bank robbery. The dust settles, his life returns to normal, and Ed carries on with his life and his weekly poker game with friends. Things get interesting, even dangerous, when Ed receives the first ace in the mail. His task as The Messenger will change not only his life, but the lives of everyone around him. Insightful, goofy, strange, this book is worth a read. I will admit I found the ending a little disappointing, but the trip the story took me on was well worth it.


My Cousin Rachel by Dauphne du Maurier was recently made into a movie starring Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin. Before I could watch it, I wanted to read it, so I did. Du Maurier’s Rebecca is one of my favorite books, so I was a little nervous about reading this hoping I wouldn’t be disappointed. I wasn’t. Du Maurier is so subtly eerie it’s freaky. Philip, a young man bereaved by the death of his cousin, is positive that his cousin’s wife killed her husband. Rachel, the widow, unexpectedly shows up at Philip’s estate. Slowly, Philip falls in love with her, but in the end, this relationship leads to tragedy. Du Maurier plants doubts in my mind about everyone’s character that by the time I finished the book, I didn’t know who is guilty, but I was sure no one was innocent. I was convinced I knew who was guilty, and the next that surety melted away to doubt.


The Marriage Bureau by Penrose Halson was my one non-fiction book this year. I struggle reading nonfiction, but I am forcing myself to read at least one a year. It is getting easier, and I am discovering some pretty good nonfiction books, and The Marriage Bureau is one of them. On the eve of World War II, two young women go into business together and run a marriage bureau to help people find love. This is the story of how they got started, and the impact they had in the lives of the people of London, England and beyond.


I was finishing up my day behind the desk at Topsham Public Library when a new movie came across the desk. Dave told me I should watch it, and I thought, meh, I’ll give it a go. That evening my sister and I were on my couch with the TV to ourselves, and I put The Hollars in the DVD player. We still don’t know what the movie is about, well, I mean, it’s about life and all it’s oddities and joys and sorrows, but this movie explores life in a quirky way that does not detract from the telling, but adds to it. The cast includes John Krasinski, Margo Martindale, and Anna Kendrick. This is a hidden gem that you want to enjoy one winter day.



Dale’s Top Picks of 2017:


Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron is a graphic novel that takes place in rural Alabama. The main character is the local high school’s football coach who may have buried bodies under the bleachers.




Essex County by Jeff Lemire is also a graphic novel that follows a community and the problems and issues its members tackle.




Stephen King and Richard Chizmar co-authored Gwendy’s Button Box, the next of Dale’s top picks. With an author like King, you know it’s a horror story. When will little girls learn to stay away from strangers?




Wind River starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olson is one of Dale’s favorite movies of the year. A game tracker (Renner) is recruited to help an FBI agent (Olson) investigate a murder that occurred on reservation land.



The last of Dale’s picks is also a movie. It Comes At Night is about one family who opens their home to another family in need as the world is terrorized by an unnatural threat. Paranoia and mistrust grow between the families, and characters must ask themselves what they would do to protect their loved ones. Stars include Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, and Christopher Abbott.



Helen’s Top Picks of 2017:


Knife Creek by Maine author Paul Doiron is first on Helen’s list. The adventures continue for Mike Bowditch, Maine Game Warden, when he discovers the body of a baby while he is out hunting feral hogs. Rumor is that the mother died years earlier, but as Mike investigates, he discovers nothing is certain.



John Grisham delves into the world of black market manuscripts and stolen books in his book Camino Island. Bookstore owner, Bruce Cable, has a legitimate business selling books, but on the side he sells stolen goods. Mercer Mann is hired to go undercover and learn Cable’s secrets. Sometimes, one can learn too much.



Everything is fine until the dinner party. That’s when Kate, happily married mother of two, meets Peter. After that, it all goes south. One of them ends up dead, and to find out who-done-it read Fatal by John Lescroart.



Part of the Pendergast novels, The Obsidian Chamber by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, makes it on Helen’s list. Filled with grief, believing that Special Agent Pendergast is dead, Constance, his ward, takes shelter in the chambers beneath the family mansion. But she is not left alone to grieve as a dark figure from the past takes her captive.



Also part of a series, The Play of Death by Oliver Potzsch, is the newest installment in the Hangman’s Daughter Tales. Set in Germany during the late 1600s, an actor is killed and Jakob, the hangman along with his daughter and son-in-law, investigate and uncover the secrets the town has tried to hide.






Drum Roll, Please!

Are you ready for the year’s top prizes to be awarded in books, movies, and music? Beginning next week, I will be revealing the Top Picks of 2017 chosen by the staff of Topsham Public Library! Tune in, and compare it to your favorites from this past year.

To be a Top Pick of 2017, the staff member had to have read it, or watched it, or listened to it during the year. The item does not have to be a new release or released in 2017, it just has to have been enjoyed during 2017.

Let us know what you think about the picks. Thumbs up or thumbs down? What items would your list include?