Tax Forms and Assistance at the Peabody Library

January has arrived, bringing freezing temperatures, resolutions, and, whether we like it or not–tax season.

Fret not, the Library is here to help you!

The Peabody Institute Library has a helpful page chock-full of resources to assist you in making taxes as painless and safe as possible. Find out where to get local services, downloadable forms and instructions, free online filing, updates and more.

Forms

Every year, as online filings increase, the library receives fewer and fewer tax forms and instruction booklets from Massachusetts and the IRS. Unfortunately, this year will be no exception. Mass resident forms will be reduced by 10% and non-resident forms by about 40%, according to the Commonwealth Department of Revenue. We expect these by the last week of January.

IRS federal forms are expected to arrive mid-to-late January. This year, the library will have a limited supply of basic 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ forms and instructions.

But don’t worry! Even though supplies will be limited, the library staff will be here to offer you assistance in photocopying or printing necessary items online, as well as accessing important sites and reference guides to help you get started filing.

Tax Assistance

The Peabody South Branch was unfortunately unable to secure AARP volunteers for its free tax help this year, and will not be offering free filing assistance. The Peabody West Branch will offer appointments on a first-come, first-serve, limited basis. Call (978) 535-3354 or stop by the West Branch at 603 Lowell Street to find out more.

Several other area agencies, including the Torigian Senior Center, will be offering assistance too. Check out our resource page for more information.

Did you know the IRS works with efile.com to offer free tax assistance for your important questions? Call the hotline Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. during filing season: 1-800-829-1040

More info here.

And get help with Massachusetts State taxes, too, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. at the Commonwealth Department of Revenue: (617) 887-6367 or (800) 392-6089 (toll-free in Massachusetts)

We’re here to get you through tax season, and while we can’t offer financial advice, the library is always happy to help you find resources that can get you from start to finish. Have questions? Give us a call!

Main Library: (978) 531-0100

West Branch: (978) 535-3354

South Branch: (978) 531-3380

And just a friendly reminder, Federal Tax Day this year is APRIL 17.  This is not a typo.  The regular tax return filing deadline is April 15. However, due to April 15 being on a Sunday and the Washington D.C. Emancipation Day holiday being observed on April 16 instead of April 15, 2018, Tax Day is on the following Tuesday.

The Romance Garden

Happy New Year, readers, and welcome to our first Romance Garden post of 2018!

John White Alexander, Repose, 1895

We sincerely hope your new year is full of love, intrigue, and happily-ever-afters, and, to that end, we bring your our genre experts’ favorite reads from the past month.  We hope they get your year started off on the right foot, and give you the chance to explore a new author, a new trope, or a whole new genre!

Bridget: Stealing Mr. Right by Tamara Morgan

Every time I read a description of Tamara Morgan’s romances, my initial reaction is “that…that can’t work!”.  And every single time, she proves me wrong.  Without fail, her romances are smart, funny, insightful, and genuinely touching in a way I never expected, and thoroughly enjoyed.

This first in her new Penelope Blue series features a world-renowned (or most-wanted) jewel thief, Penelope Blue, and her husband, a dedicated and extraordinarily resourceful FBI agent.  Penelope got involved with Grant Emerson simply so that she could keep her enemies close, and make sure he wouldn’t get too close to her and her fellow thieves.  But the longer she spent with the ultra-handsome, whip-smart agent, the more she finds herself falling for him.  And that will never do…he’s supposed to be her worst enemy, right?  Things only get worse when Penelope embarks on a new jewel heist…and finds out that her husband has been assigned to track her down.

I normally loathe stories where the protagonists keep secrets from each other.  In this case, however, Morgan somehow manages to make it work.  Her characters are wonderfully vibrant and driven, ensuring that readers are somehow rooting for both of them, even though it seems there is no way for them to win without losing everything.  And, despite all the odds, this is a book with an absolute, total, complete winner of an ending that had me cheering for this most unlikely of couples.  Readers looking for a snarky, fast-paced, steamy romance need look no further than this book, and the series to follow!

Kelley: Wilde in Love by Eloisa James

Readers of historical romance know that you can almost never go wrong with a title by Eloisa James. High quality writing, nods to Shakespeare, humor, and just plain good stories are hallmarks of her work, and her latest book, Wilde in Love, doesn’t disappoint.

Lord Alaric Wilde is an adventurer just arrived home to England after years of traveling the world. While away, the books he wrote about his adventures became London’s best sellers, so unbeknownst to Alaric many admirers eagerly await the return of the highly eligible son of the Duke of Lindow. It seems every young woman in London has read his books and posted his picture on their bedroom walls; there is even a long running play (written by an anonymous playwright) about his life called, of course, Wilde in Love.

Appalled by his newfound celebrity, Alaric finds himself drawn to the only woman in England who hasn’t read of his adventures, Miss Willa Ffynche. Of course, Willa is a private woman who prefers a suitor with far less notoriety. Unlike most women in Alaric’s circle, Willa is well-read and easily holds her own in conversations of business and the world. She fascinates him and, much as Willa hates to admit it, the feeling is mutual.

Watching the couple come together, surrounded by an enjoyable cast of friends and Wilde family members, is fun as well as heartwarming. Readers should look forward to the upcoming stories of The Wildes of Lindow Castle.

From the Teen Room!

Read Before You Watch! (Books Coming Soon To Theaters Near You!)

 

 

Bonus novels with an unspecified release date:

 

 

 

 

What novel would you want to see be made into a movie?

Five Book Friday!

And a frigid one it is, dear readers.   Though many of us consider ourselves hale and hearty New Englanders who tweak the nose of bad weather and giggle at climatic extremes…it’s really cold out there, and it never hurts to read, reread, and reminder ourselves of these helpful tips from the Red Cross about keeping everyone, humans and furry friends alike, safe during weather like this. They also have some winter tips and advisories for you to peruse.

We are here and the heat is on, so feel free to come warm up here at the Library, and take a gander at our books, movies, audiobooks, and other material to help pass these long winter nights.  Here’s just a preview of some of the sensation books that have sidled onto our shelves this week:

 

After the End of the World: Personally speaking, I could not be more excited that this book has arrived on our shelves.  It’s an open secret that Jonathan L. Howard is a Free-For-All favorite author, and his Carter and Lovecraft series is a terrific sci-fi adventure–particularly for fans of H.P. Lovecraft…particularly for those fans who would really like to confront and defy Lovecraft’s own odiousness while still enjoying the weirdness of his fiction.  In this second book in this series, PI Daniel Carter and his erstwhile partner Emily Lovecraft find themselves trapped in the Unfolded World.  In this world, the Cold War never happened because the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1941. In this world the Nazi Großdeutschland is the premier superpower, and is not merely tolerated but indulged because, in this world, the Holocaust happened behind the ruins of the Iron Curtain and consumed only Bolsheviks, Communists, and others the West was glad to see gone. In this world, there are monsters, and not all of them are human.  But even in the Unfolded World, there are still bills to pay and jobs to do. Carter finds himself working for the German secret security service to uncover the truth behind a major scientific joint project that is going suspiciously well. The trail takes Lovecraft and him to a distant, abandoned island, and a conspiracy that threatens everything. Fortunately, if there is a character who is going to face down the mind-bending darkness at play here, it’s Emily.  And she has a shotgun.  If my praise for Howard’s limitless imagination, fiendishly clever and detailed plotting, and talent for creating character you would willingly follow to the gates of Hell (often literally), then trust Booklist, who said in their review “This is a wonderful novel, ambitious on many levels and thoroughly successful. Its central characters are even more compelling than they were in their first appearance…and the story is diabolically clever and convoluted. As readers wait for the next installment, they will ask themselves where Howard will take Daniel and Emily next.”

 

The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny With a Dashing StrangerVictoria Alexander’s Lady Travelers series is just what the armchair adventurer needs for days like this–intriguing characters, beautiful locales, smart adventures, and plenty of witty banter and chemistry to keep things moving at a wicked clip.  When  Lady Wilhelmina Bascombe’s carefree, extravagant lifestyle vanishes with the demise of her husband, her only hope lies in retrieving a family treasure—a Renaissance masterpiece currently in the hands of a cunning art collector in Venice. Thankfully, the Lady Travelers Society has orchestrated a clever plan to get Willie to Europe, leading a tour of mothers and daughters…and one curiously attentive man.  Dante Augustus Montague’s one passion has long been his family’s art collection. He’s finally tracked a long-lost painting to the enchanting Lady Bascombe. Convinced that the canvas had been stolen, he will use any means to reclaim his birthright—including deception. But how long before pretend infatuation gives way to genuine desire?  Willie and Dante know they’re playing with fire in the magical moonlit city. Their common quest could compromise them both…or lead them to happily-ever-after.  The Lady Travelers series has already won plenty of acclaim already, and this second installment has been praised by critics and readers alike, with RT Book Reviews saying “”Alexander is an original and so are her romances…[she] fulfills readers’ desires and then some.”

Fool’s River: Timothy Hallinan’s Poke Rafferty thrillers deal with some pretty rough themes, including the Bangkok sex trade, but Hallinan balances these issues with such humanity and genuine sympathy that it makes his stories quite the compelling read.  In this eighth book in the series, Poke, a Bangkok writer, is facing down the worst days of his life.  It all started when Edward Dell, the almost-boyfriend of Poke’s teenage daughter, Miao pays an emergency visit.  The boy’s father, Buddy, a late-middle-aged womanizer who has moved to Bangkok for happy hunting, has disappeared, and money is being siphoned out of his bank and credit card accounts. It soon becomes apparent that Buddy is in the hands of a pair of killers who prey on Bangkok’s “sexpats”; when his accounts are empty, he’ll be found, like a dozen others before him, floating facedown in a Bangkok canal with a weighted cast on his unbroken leg. His money is almost gone.  Over forty-eight frantic hours, Poke does everything he can to locate Buddy before it’s too late.  Publisher’s Weekly gave this series entry a starred review, calling it “Outstanding . . . Fans of hard-boiled detective fiction will feel right at home.”

What It’s Like to Be a DogPeople with pets–and, no doubt, people without pets–often wonder just what is going on in the brains of the animals with whom we share this planet.  Enter  neuroscientist Gregory Berns, who set out to discover what it’s like to be a dog…and a bat….and a dolphin? Berns and his team began with a radical step: they taught dogs to go into an MRI scanner–completely awake. They discovered what makes dogs individuals with varying capacities for self-control, different value systems, and a complex understanding of human speech. It turns out, they are as emotionally complex, in many ways, as the humans they love.  And dogs were just the beginning. In this fascinating, insightful, and wonderfully educational book, Berns explores the fascinating inner lives of wild animals from dolphins and sea lions to the extinct Tasmanian tiger.  This book has gotten high praise from critics and readers, as well as experts like Temple Grandin and the Humane Society of the United States, who noted “Gregory Berns is a remarkable scientist, whose pioneering MRI studies of the brain across a range of species have opened up a pathway to deeper understanding of animals’ internal awareness and perspectives. He’s also an exceptional thinker, whose grasp of the ethical and practical significance of his findings for the status and treatment of animals is pervasive in this absorbing work.”

Hellfire BoysThe rules and experience of war changed permanently in 1915 when the German Army successfully unleashed poisoned gas along the Western Front of the First World War, earning international fury, as well as launching a new kind of international arms race.  The development of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service in 1917 left an indelible imprint on World War I. This small yet powerful division, along with the burgeoning Bureau of Mines, assembled research and military unites devoted solely to chemical weaponry, outfitting regiments with hastily made gas-resistant uniforms and recruiting scientists and engineers from around the world into the fight. Drawing from years of research, Theo Emery brilliantly shows how World War I quickly spiraled into a chemists’ war, one led by the companies of young American engineers-turned-soldiers who would soon become known as the “Hellfire Boys.” As gas attacks began to mark the heaviest and most devastating battles, these brave and brilliant men were on the front lines, racing to protect, develop, and unleash the latest weapons of mass destruction.  Emery’s book emphasizes the importance of the First World War to American history, not only in terms of military technology, but also in understanding the ruthlessness of modern military ideology, in a work that earned a starred review from Library Journal, who praised both his research and storytelling skills: “Moving crisply between stateside turf wars and battlefront combat, this well-written and well-researched slice of history will appeal to virtually any history or war buff.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons, happy reading!

The Lynn Public Library’s Best of 2017!

We are enormously lucky to be part of NOBLE (North of Boston Library Exchange).  As many of you know, the NOBLE network allows you, our beloved patrons, to borrow books from the other libraries around us–including academic libraries at North Shore Community College and Salem State University–and utilize the programs and resources at our fellow NOBLE libraries.  It’s a fantastic system that we all value enormously.

The Lynn Public Library

So this year, we thought it might be fun to invite the other NOBLE libraries and staff members to join us in our end-of-the-year celebrations! This week, we bring you the Lynn Public Library’s Favorite Books of 2017!

Although Library services were available in Lynn as early as 1815, it wasn’t until a bequest was made to the city in 1896 that plans for a permanent Library were developed.  After some debate about the style, size, and scale of the building, construction began in 1898, with local architect George A. Moore overseeing the project.  The Library opened in 1900; that same year, the trustees commissioned a mural by Francis Luis Mora, a prominent Uruguayan-born American  painter, who was most likely the first Hispanic artist elected to the National Academy of Design (his self-portrait appears on the left).  This would be Mora’s first public mural, and, as a result, he received a commission for the Missouri State Building at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (also known as the St. Louis World’s Fair)in 1904, as well as for the Governor’s Mansion of New Jersey, in the Sears family’s country home (of Sears & Roebuck fame)  in Brookline, Massachusetts, and painted the portrait of Warren Harding that is still on display in the White House.  He would later go on to teach at what would become Parsons The New School for Design, with Georgia O’Keeffe as one of his students…see what great things can come from Libraries?!

Today, the staff of the Lynn Public Library is dedicated to serving the needs of a diverse population whose interests range from scholarly research to cultural pursuits to entertainment.  Their collection numbers almost 125,000 volumes, with over 30,000 in the Children’s Department alone. The large Reference collection is known for its emphasis on Lynn history, genealogy, and the Civil War, and offers a wealth of services and information for patrons.  Their Calendar of Events is packed with events for teens, adults, and kids, from book clubs to crafting events, so feel free to check them out!

And, without further ado, is just a small sampling from the  Lynn Public Library’s staff’s favorite reads from 2017!

Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Anderson

Warcross by Marie Lu

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Behind Closed Doors by B.A Paris

Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

The Store by James Patterson

Hard Core Twenty-Four by Janet Evanovich

Here’s to Us by Elin Hilderbrand

Mangrove Lightning by Randy Wayne White

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Murder Games by James Patterson

Black Book by James Patteson

Chew Approved by The Chew

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It!: Simple, Scrumptious Recipes for Crazy Busy Lives by Ree Drummond

Our Staff’s Best of 2017, Part 4!

A brief note: This blog post was held up because your friendly neighborhood blogger has been laid up with a really nasty case of the ‘flu.  It comes, nevertheless, with much love, as well as apologies, beloved patrons.

Here at the Peabody Institute Library, we are truly fortunate to have a staff with wonderfully diverse tastes in books, graphic novels, films, audiobooks, and more.  And so we are always on-hand to help you find whatever you are looking for when you come into the Library.

It also means that when we at the Free For All ask our staff for their favorite books/films/audiobooks from the past year, the results are fascinating, beautifully varied, and totally engaging.  So it is our pleasure today to begin our survey of our staff picks for the “Best of 2017”.

The rules are simple: the media in question doesn’t have to have been created during this year, they just have to be enjoyed this year.  As a result, you’ll see books from the nineteenth century and films made released in the past few months, and audiobook adaptations of classic novels, as well as recordings of new thrillers.  We hope you enjoy these suggestions, and that you find some books to help usher in the New Year!

Best of 2017

From the West Branch:

EverybodyThe third studio album by American rapper Logic was released on May 5, 2017, to both critical and popular acclaim.  Everybody loosely follows the journey of a recently deceased man named Atom who, after dying in a car accident on his way home, meets God (voiced here by Neil DeGrasse Tyson) and has a conversation with him spanning a multitude of topics and millennia.  From the other side of the great divide, Atom learns about himself, as well as all the other incarnations he has embodied over the course of time.  In Atom is the entirety of humanity, and, he is told, by learning to see through the perspective of others, can he transcend.  The result is an album that deals with some really big topics–activism, laziness, identity, the power of human connections and human hatred–without being heavy-handed.  HipHopDX noted that this is very much an album that will hold meaning, especially for Logic’s “fan base, especially those going through struggles of their own, his latest work will be the catharsis to keep them from plunging off the deep end.”  Just a friendly note, this album does have a parental advisory for language.

Small Great Things Jodi Picoult is not an author who shies away from the big issues, and this best-selling novel (soon, apparently, to be a motion picture) grapples with privilege, identity, and American racism, in all its shades and shapes, and does so in a way that is both heart-rending and insightful.  Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. When she hesitates and the child dies, Ruth finds herself at the center of a major court case–and media sensation.  Critics called this Picoult’s best book to date, and the San Francisco Book Review hailed it as “A novel that puts its finger on the very pulse of the nation that we live in today . . . a fantastic read from beginning to end, as can always be expected from Picoult, this novel maintains a steady, page-turning pace that makes it hard for readers to put down.”

From the Circulation Desk:

The Age of InnocenceEdith Wharton’s twelfth novel, a wonderfully witty depiction of upper-class New Yorkers won the Pulitzer Prize in 1920, making her the first woman to be awarded the prestigious prize.  At the heart of the story are three people who are both defined and trapped by the opulent and restrictive society in which they live: Newland Archer, a restrained young attorney, is engaged to the lovely May Welland but falls in love with May’s beautiful and unconventional cousin, Countess Ellen Olenska. Despite his fear of a dull marriage to May, Archer goes through with the ceremony — persuaded by his own sense of honor, family, and societal pressures. The love triangle that persists amongst these three is both a commentary on 19th century society and a comical, moving, human tale, making this a wonderfully (and surprisingly) readable classic novel that has remained a favorite among readers and critics alike.  (The novel was also adapted into a terrific film starring Daniel Day Lewis, Winona Ryder, and Michelle Pfeiffer).

ArrivalIt isn’t often that a time-and-reality-bending sci-fi film manages to be so touching, so human, and so gripping, but this film, with a screenplay by Eric Heisserer,  based on a short story by Ted Chiang, and directed by Denis Villeneuve, is just that.  Opening on the day a series of mysterious spacecraft touch down around the world, this movie tells the story of a a team ,including linguist Louise Banks, who are brought together to investigate the ships and the beings inside it. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers, and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.  This is a film that will have you on the edge of your seat, but will also give you plenty to think about after the final scene has played out, making it a rare kind of success–and a sensational adaptation.

 

We’ll be back with more recommendations soon, beloved patrons.  Until then, stay warm and toasty!

"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." ~Frederick Douglass