Your Go To Guide for all things local!

Category: Books

#ReadLocal – Your South Coast Summer Reading List

Read Local. South Coast books.

Eat local. Shop local. Drink local. We’re all about local at South Coast Almanac. That’s why we asked the Almanac’s book guru, Laura Latour, to give us a list of books by local authors. So #readlocal and #enjoy!

The Sparrow SistersSparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick

The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick is our first “Summer Pick” for The South Coast Almanac Book Group, and it couldn’t be more perfect.  Set in the fictional seaside town of Granite Point, the novel tells an enchanting tale of the three Sparrow sisters; Patience, Sorrel and Nettie. They are healers, herbalists and horticulturalists who run the local garden center. However, the profundity and quality of their plants sparks rumors of witchcraft. The Sparrow Sisters offers everything a fan of magical realism would want, plus the added bonuses of a steamy love affair and an intriguing mystery.

BONUS: Read The Sparrow Sisters this summer and then join us in the fall for an opportunity to meet the author and hear about her upcoming sequel, The Forbidden Garden.  Like our South Coast Almanac Book Group on Facebook to learn more.

Ruthless RiverRuthless River: Love and Survival by Raft on the Amazon’s Relentless Madre de Dios by Holly Fitzgerald

A resident of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, Holly Fitzgerald has written a debut memoir recounting her hellish honeymoon. When newlyweds Holly and Fitz left for their around-the-world vacation, they never expected to wind up nearly starved to death on a floating raft in a South American river. Plagues of bees and piranha-infested waters, sketchy natives, airplane crashes, and more, this story is so unbelievable you might think it is fiction.  What makes it transcend most survivor tales is the unbreakable bond between a couple united both in marriage and their will to live.

AshesAshes by Steven Manchester

Winner of the Grand Prize at this year’s Los Angeles Book Festival, Ashes is a buddy-road-trip novel written by Somerset author Steven Manchester.  Jason and Tom Prendergast are two estranged brothers on a forced cross-country trip to dump their abusive father’s ashes. They couldn’t be more different; a rough-and-tumble corrections officer and a fastidious, out-of-touch academic. The road trip takes them from Salem, Massachusetts to Seattle, Washington with several pit stops down a dark memory lane.  Full of black humor, Ashes is a fun excursion for anyone who loves dysfunctional family tales.

Freedom's RingFreedom’s Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli

Swansea resident Heidi Chiavaroli is a self-proclaimed history buff whose debut novel, Freedom’s Ring, will be published August 8.  Annie David is plagued by guilt when her niece is injured in the Marathon Bombing. But an antique ring, given to her on that tragic day helps her to heal.  She follows the ring’s provenance and discovers Liberty Caldwell, an ancestor who lived through the trials of the American Revolution.  As Annie draws strength from Liberty’s tale, she wonders if she has the courage to love again. From the Boston Massacre to the Boston Marathon Bombing, Chiavaroli follows the lives of two women who are separated by centuries yet still struggle to live “Boston Strong.”

ContributeContribute by Kristy Acevedo

Consider, the young adult novel by New Bedford teacher Kristy Acedevo, debuted with high praise and was a finalist for this year’s Philip K. Dick Award. Contribute, the much-anticipated sequel, is being released July 11 and readers can’t wait to learn the fate of unlikely heroine Alexandra Lucas. Fans of hard-core sci-fi will appreciate Acevedo’s world-building and high-tech concepts while fans of the first novel will enjoy Alex’s continuing struggle to manage her anxiety and find peace. Kirkus Reviews praises Contribute, saying “it’s a rare treat to see a protagonist. . . showing readers humanizing frailty even in the context of a technologically advanced world.”

Quicksand PondQuicksand Pond by Janet Taylor Lisle

Award-winning children’s book author Janet Taylor Lisle uses her hometown of Little Compton as a springboard for her imagination. Utilizing real-life geography (Quicksand Pond is part of the Southeastern Coastal Watershed Basin), Lisle weave a tale of friendship and wonder between two twelve-year-old girls over the course of one important summer.  Terri and Jessie’s adventures on the pond evoke the carefree days of childhood with hours spent building forts, capturing fireflies, and exploring the natural world. However, it also delivers a heartbreaking reminder of the delicate balance between the “haves” and the “have-nots” and how our judgments can tip the scales on each other’s fate.

For further reading suggestions and some opportunities to meet authors and attend readings, you should check out The South Coast Almanac Book Group. All you have to do to join is “Like” the Facebook Page.

And sign up here for occasional email updates from South Coast Almanac.

Continue Reading

Get Out of the House! 6 Fun Things For March

Myles Standish State Forest

In these days before spring really arrives, it’s so easy to stay on the couch and binge-watch TV episodes. We’re trying to resist that temptation (although This Is Us is very good.) Here we give you 6 fun reasons to get out of the house.

Photo courtesy of Buzzards Bay Coalition

Photo courtesy of Buzzards Bay Coalition

1. Get Fit, and Smart (at the same time)

The Buzzards Bay Coalition and the Wareham Land Trust have partnered to bring us fresh air and history with Wednesday Walkabouts: Historical Tour Series. Take a stroll through four conservation properties and learn about their previous lives as cranberry bogs, iron works and mills. Thanks to Southcoast Health,  these events are free. But you should register online. See how to do that here.

 

 

Photo courtesy Ray Drueke

2. Jazzin’ Around

We know we’ve mentioned the South Coast Jazz Orchestra before. More than once. That’s because they’re that good. Get out and listen to this tremendous group of musicians on either March 13 or March 27 (or both!), hosted by the incomparable Gilda. You will be blown away by their talent. You will also need reservations because the place fills up. Gilda’s Stone Rooster, 27 Marion Road, Wareham, 508-748-9700.

 

Photo courtesy of East Wind Lobster & Grille

Photo courtesy of East Wind Lobster & Grille

3. Turn Up the Gas

Jean Lanahan, owner of the East Wind Lobster & Grille, gives us hands-on cooking lessons. On March 8, she offers Fish 101. She’ll teach you Pan Seared Scallops, Rolled Flounder, Poached Salmon and Fried Calamari & Banana Pepper. On March 15, she invites you to play with quahogs. You’ll work with ‘hogs, ‘necks, and cherrystones  to create Stuffed Quahogs, Quahog Stew, and Littlenecks with pasta. Then on March 22, she’ll be teaching easy pasta dishes and wine pairings. Just $30 per class, participants will learn how to cook, eat dinner together and take home the leftovers. You can’t beat that.

You must reserve your space in advance — check out East Wind’s Facebook page here for more info. March 8, 15 or 22 from 6:30 to 8:30. 2 Main Street, Buzzards Bay, 508-759-1857.

Fremantle prisoner Michael Harrington4. Irish Adventures

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, go check out the current exhibit at the New Bedford Whaling Museum: Famine, Friends & Fenians. It’s a fascinating tale of New Bedford/Irish history just waiting for a Hollywood screenwriter to create a swashbuckling movie. We wrote about the Fenians last year on our blog so if you want to get up to speed before going to the exhibit, check that out here. New Bedford Whaling Museum, 18 Johnny Cake Hill, New Bedford, whalingmuseum.org

Photo courtesy of Ella's Woodburning Oven Restaurant

Photo courtesy of Ella’s Woodburning Oven Restaurant

5. Farm-to-Table Party

The spring equinox is March 20. Two days later, Ella’s Woodburning Oven Restaurant celebrates with a farm-to-table dinner, featuring meat from Weatherlow Farms and greens from Eva’s Garden (see more about Eva here). Chef Marc Swierkowski of Ella’s teams up with Chef Ed Rosazck from Mattapoisett’s How on Earth to create a delicious celebration of our local bounty. Bog Iron Brewery of Norton rounds out the dinner with local craft beer pairings for the dinner. Contact Ella’s Woodburning Stove Restaurant for more information at 508.759.3600 or [email protected]

 

 

 

6. Page to Stage

Page to Stage at the Z (Photo courtesy of Zeiterion Theater)

Page to Stage at the Z (Photo courtesy of Zeiterion Theater)

For a different kind of pairing, the Z is offering three stage performances with a twist this month. To deepen the theater experience, the Z will offer community book clubs to accompany each performance, delving into the themes of the books before the topics come alive on stage.

A March 1 book club will discuss  Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism by Pulitzer Prize-winner Ron Suskind, which is linked to Spencers: Theatre of Illusion performance on March 4.  Life, Animated is a twisting, 20-year journey that follows the author’s autistic son Owen, and inspired the Oscar nominated documentary of the same name.

On March 2, the book club discusses The Giver by Lois Lowry before seeing American Place Theatre’s superb adaptation the same night. A Newberry Award-winning book, The Giver has become a staple of young adult reading lists but it’s engaging for adults as well, with a story that will have you thinking about big concepts like ethics and individuality long after you put the book down,

On March 30, prior to the arrival of Argentine company Che Malambo later that night, the Z’s book club will discuss Evita: The Real Life of Eva Peron by Nicholas Fraser and Marysa Navarro.

The book groups are free and open to the public but please RSVP here. To purchase tickets to the shows, go here. The Zeiterion Theater,  684 Purchase Street, New Bedford.

 

If you have any other suggestions to tear us away from Hulu and Netflix, leave them in the comment section. And if you want to stay in the know about cool and eclectic South Coast events, sign up for our free emails right here.

 

Continue Reading

7 South Coast’rs Give Us Their Summer Reading Recs

We love summer.

We love reading.

We love lists.

We are wildly attracted to their combination: summer reading lists.

And so we thought it would be fun to compile a list from notable South Coast readers. We asked a handful of interesting and smart folks what they thought we should read this summer. Here’s the eclectic mix of books they suggested, ranging from suspenseful novels to inspiring biographies. Read on!

summer reading

Mayor Jon Mitchell
City of New Bedford

Jon Mitchell, Mayor of New Bedford, recommends “When to Rob a Bank” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

New Bedford’s Mayor says, “I just picked up the latest installment of Steve Levitt’s and Steve Dubner’s Freakonomics series, ‘When to Rob a Bank.’ The book is a compilation of the authors’ blog posts that raise the same sort of provocative questions about American life through the lens of an economist that made the original Freakonomics so popular. Although the book doesn’t offer the deep analytical dives as their other works, readers will have fun pondering the likes of ‘Why don’t flight attendants get tipped?’ or ‘Is cheating good for sports?’ Those who haven’t been introduced to the Freakonomics series might wonder why anyone in my shoes would spend their precious free time on such matters. I say give it a try and find out why it was recently No. 1 on the NY Times best seller list.” 

Anika Walker-Johnson on summer reading

Anika Walker-Johnson
Tabor Academy

Anika Walker-Johnson, Tabor Academy, recommends “We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future” by Deepa Iyer

Tabor’s Dean of Multicultural Education and Community Life says, “my role at Tabor is largely to help build a more inclusive school community that is rooted in our mission to foster care for others and committed citizenship’. I wanted to recommend a book that will deepen our understanding and widen our discussion about the intersection between race, ethnicity and religion and how those intersections impact the experiences of immigrants in America.”

Mark Rasmussen on summer reading

Mark Rasmussen
Buzzards Bay Coalition

Mark Rasmussen, Buzzards Bay Coalition, recommends “A Storm Without Rain” by Jan Adkins

The President of the Buzzards Bay Coalition says, “you could buzz through this book’s 179 pages in a couple of sessions in your beach chair, but you won’t want to. ‘A Storm Without Rain’ is a must read for anyone who loves the Bay and the towns and people that surround it. It’s a magical tale of a boy from Marion who escapes in his whaler one day to Penikese Island, takes a nap, and wakes up in 1904 to experience life on the Bay a hundred years ago. And it ties the present to the past in a way that reminds you of the comfortable continuity that exists in this area with plenty of references to local families and places from the C.E. Beckman’s marine supply in New Bedford to Tobey Hospital in Wareham. It’s a classic childhood adventure story that will make you remember why you love the South Coast so much.”

Mark took to this assignment enthusiastically. Like most book lovers, he couldn’t stop at just one book. He says if he could recommend another book it would be “The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home” by George Colt, a non-fiction account of a family’s farewell to their summer home in Bourne. Consider that a bonus recommendation for your summer reading!

Dr. John Sbrega on summer reading

Dr. John Sbrega
Bristol Community College

Dr. John J. Sbrega, Bristol Community College, recommends “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” by Beverly Daniel Tatum

Dr. Sbrega, the President of Bristol Community College, says,”My choice is a re-read (for me) of the 1997 book by Beverly Daniel Tatum…Dr. Tatum’s book stuck with me when it first appeared, and in the midst of our contemporary turmoil over race relations, I highly recommend it. Dr. Tatum argues that we must deal directly with race and racism. It is easily read and pertinent to today’s society.”

 

Margot Desjardins on summer reading

Margot Desjardins
Westport School Committee

Margot Desjardins, Westport School Committee, recommends “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow

Margot has spent her whole life in education. A Massachusetts Teacher of the Year in 1987, she has also served as superintendent of the Westport Public Schools and currently serves on the town’s school committee. She recommends the Hamilton biography because, she says, “I am still trying to get tickets to the play but in the meantime decided to read the book that inspired the Broadway super-smash hit, Ron Chernow’s fascinating ‘Alexander Hamilton’. History buffs, political junkies, and ‘inquiring minds’ will not be disappointed!”

Linda Clifford on summer reading

Linda Clifford
Marion Bookstall

Linda Clifford, Marion Bookstall, recommends “You Should Have Known” by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Linda says this is the kind of book that keeps you turning the page. A well-written literary mystery, the novel features an affluent Upper East Side therapist whose life is upended when another mother from her son’s private school is murdered. Linda promises that “You Should Have Known” will keep you engaged this summer no matter where you are. So bring it to the beach or a baseball game, relax with it outside in a hammock or inside on a rainy day. See if she’s right.

Lastly, we thought we should plug our own upcoming newfangled book group (newfangled because it’s online!) by letting our South Coast Almanac Books Editor tell you about our first selection. We encourage you to join in the fun by checking out the discussion that will begin on on June 21st on our book group facebook page. (And a reminder that our local bookstores: Marion Bookstall, Partners Village Store and Subtext Book Shop are all offering 20% discounts off the title.)

Laura LaTour on summer reading

Laura Latour
South Coast Almanac Books Editor

Laura LaTour, South Coast Almanac, recommends “Hammer Head” by Nina Maclaughlin

Laura says “’Hammer Head’ is a lyrically written memoir filled with introspection, humor and a surprising amount of literary references. But what puts this memoir in the must-read pile are the fact-based gems she sprinkles throughout; the evolution of our measurement system, the surprising diversity of hammers, and the history of screwdrivers. A fascinating, inspiring and above all, beautifully written memoir.”

Happy Summer! Happy Reading! Happy Lists!

 


For occasional email updates from South Coast Almanac, sign up here….

We promise two things: we won’t share your email address with anyone else and we respect your inbox (i.e. we won’t inundate you with emails).

  • Thanks!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Continue Reading

An online South Coast book group?

Yes, that’s right. It’s our new-fangled take on the old-fashioned book group.

We’re forming an online community of book lovers to discuss literature connected with the South Coast. First up — Hammer Head by Nina MacLaughlin, an engaging memoir from a writer who decides to give up her job at the Boston Phoenix to become a carpenter.

If you’ve ever yearned to quit your 9-to-5 job and pursue something entirely new and unexpected, you’ll love this book. Even if you’ve never yearned to quit your day job (is there anyone for whom this applies?), you’ll still love this book.

Join us!  Our books editor, Laura Latour, will lead the discussion on facebook, kicking it off on Tuesday, June 21. You can join in with your comments or just follow others’ comments, enjoying their insights about the book.

And, it gets better! Our wonderful, local bookstores are giving 20% discounts on Hammer Head: Marion Bookstall; Partners Village Store; and, Subtext Book Shop.

It’s as simple as liking our book group page on facebook and following along.

Come give it a whirl!

Continue Reading