Tag Archives: Autobiography

September 2017

september2017coverIt’s September! Time to hit the books again! Why not check out some of ours?

 

 

 

Michelle – Administration

whiteprincessThe White Princess, starring Jodie Comer and Jacob Collins-Levy, New DVD White Princess

The White Princess is a mini-series based on the book by Philippa Gregory and it follows the marriage of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York. It is a sequel to The White Queen, though you can watch it as a stand-alone. I thought that this series was really well acted and it kept me engaged throughout. If you are a fan of historical dramas or in the history of the royal house in England, this is a great show to watch.

Paula – Circulation

mementoMemento, Starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Joe Pantoliano, DVD Memento

Guy Pearce stars as Leonard, a man with anterograde amnesia who is trying to track down his wife’s murderer. Due to his condition, his search for this man proves difficult because Leonard cannot develop new memories. He can remember everything up until his wife’s murder, but he quickly forgets everything that happens to him afterwards. In order to compile information, Leonard keeps a series of photographs and notes, and tattoos clues on his body that will lead him to the man who killed his wife.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, Memento is a film that will keep you on the edge of your seat. In typical Christopher Nolan fashion, the story is told in a complex series of events and plot twists that will keep you guessing throughout the entire film. Just when you think you have something figured out, new clues are revealed that force you to rethink which characters are telling the truth and which ones not to trust.

Pat – Circulation

undergroundrailroadThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, Fiction Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a plantation in Georgia where conditions are especially rough. Her mother escaped when she was very young leaving her to fend for herself. When a fellow slave tells her about the Underground Railroad, she finds the courage to run for her freedom.
The story portrays the amount of abuses that blacks were vulnerable to–all the daily abuses and even the killing of slaves in the most brutal ways.
There is something essential about reading this kind of book. In the United States it’s too easy to forget the dark times in our history.

hillbillyelegyHillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, Nonfiction 921 Vance, J.

J.D.Vance had grown up poor in rust-belt Ohio, in a family that was, by his account, highly dysfunctional. His book describes how he transcended severe disadvantages to attend Yale law school and go on to a lucrative career.
Vance’s father was absent and his mother an erratic and neglectful parent with alcohol and substance abuse problems.
Vance’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love”. They got married and moved North from Kentucky to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them.
This is a family history that is also a troubling analysis on the loss of the American dream for a large portion of this country.

Chris – Circulation

knightofthesevenkingdomsA Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin, Fiction Martin

Comprised of three novellas published during the writing of the series A Song of Ice and FireA Knight of the Seven Kingdoms follows Dunk and Egg, a knight and his squire as they travel Westeros almost one hundred years before A Game of Thrones. Martin’s vivid and engaging writing returns to tell these tales, but in a more compact form than in the novels. That being said, these stories are full of the history and ancestors from the main novels. Fans of the series will enjoy meeting familiar and new families and traveling to new locations mentioned in the main series, but never visited. Even in these short tales, Martin adds his classic dramatic twists and plots of romance. The honorable Dunk and quick-witted Egg are sure to entertain in their various exploits with villagers and nobility alike.

Brigitte – Youth 

soloSolo by Kwame Alexander, New YA Alexander

If you aren’t familiar with Kwame Alexander’s other works (The Crossover, Booked) you should know that 100% of this book is in verse. While that might be intimidating or even off-putting to some, it adds to the intimacy between the reader and the narrator. While Alexander’s other works skew younger, this is a decidedly Young Adult book. Solo is about familial relationships, first love, and the uncertainty that comes with the end of high school. Blade is a young man about to enter into the adult world but who doesn’t know who he really is. When a family secret is revealed to him, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery, and ends up finding out more about his family than he bargained for.

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July

JulypicnicIt’s July! Celebrate summer, family, and freedom and enjoy the titles listed below.

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

grantchester

Grantchester starring James Norton and Robson Green, New DVD Grantchester, Series 1

This series is set in 1953 in Grantchester, a rural village outside of Cambridge, England. It focuses on Sidney, the young, handsome, and vibrant local vicar, and Geordie, the local police detective. Sidney is good at his job – his parishioners trust him and go to him with their problems, but he is a flawed hero. He drinks too much, his love life is complicated, and he is haunted by his service in World War II. Plus he is not above breaking one of the commandments or the law for the greater good. Geordie is a no-nonsense kind of man, married with a large family. Sidney and Geordie meet in the first episode of the series when a woman suspects a local death was not suicide, but murder. The two become best of friends and Sidney thereafter helps Geordie solve cases. As a trained detective, Geordie focuses on facts and procedure while Sidney is intuitive and quick-witted; together they make a good team. The show is highly entertaining, with a good balance of fun and seriousness. It has been renewed for a second season.

palisadesPalisades Park by Alan Brennert, Fiction Brennert

I enjoyed this book that mixes historical information about the now-closed Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey with the fictional lives of the character Eddie Stopka and his family. The book opens in 1922 when a 10-year old Eddie visits Palisades Park for the first time. From there on out, the park will have a profound impact on his life and the lives of his family, particularly his daughter Toni. We follow Eddie as he leaves home as a teenager, works in the South for a few years, and then returns to New Jersey to work at Palisades, eventually owning his own concession stand, marrying, and having two children who practically grow up at the park. As a very young child, Toni saw a high diver perform at the park and was inspired to become a high diver herself, against the wishes of her mother. The novel explores a number of important events in American history through the prism of the park and its employees, including World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Korean War. We watch Toni and her brother grow up and see the direction their lives take, influenced by their upbringing as concessionaires of the park and choices made by each of their parents. This book is entertaining with well-drawn fictional characters that we care about, as well as real-life characters that were involved in the actual operation of the park over the years, which closed its doors in 1971. A great blend of fiction and fact in a moving family story.

roseRose by Li-Young Lee, New Nonfiction 811.54 Lee

Li-Young Lee is an award-winning poet, born in Indonesia in 1957 to parents who were political exiles from China. In the late 1950s, his family fled Indonesia, eventually emigrating to the United States and settling in Pennsylvania. He currently resides here in Illinois. His poetry is lush and sensuous, evoking feeling through descriptions of taste, smell, hearing, and touch, and celebrating small moments in time while focusing on meaningful issues like family, love, and memories. This collection is very reflective, being greatly influenced by the death of Lee’s father, whom Lee views as an almost mythical figure, having been the personal physician to Mao Tse-tsung, and later a political prisoner and then a minister in his new country. My favorite poem in this collection is “From Blossoms.” Its figurative language is tantalizing – you can almost taste the sweetness of the fruit. I like the way the poem goes from describing the lushness of the peaches to a broader meaning of the lushness and beauty of life. I love the last stanza of the poem, with its repetition, giving strong emphasis to those joyful moments of our lives, that we should hold on to and savor.

Mary – Youth Services

carnivorousplantsCarnivorous Plants by Tony Camilleri, Nonfiction 583.75 Cam

Some of us may have vague, nostalgic memories of being given a venus fly trap as a kid. But for some of us, the cultivation of carnivorous plants did not stop there…and instead, it turned into an obsession. I am a proud sufferer of carnivorous plant addiction, and Carnivorous Plants by Tony Camilleri hits the spot, it really does. Although this guide on carnivorous plants and their cultivation is a bit dated in terms of the latest growing tips, I do think it still stands as an important work on the topic. Also relevant are the stunning photographs taken of a variety of carnivorous plants. You will not believe your eyes. (Or that these plants are real!) After all, did you know that the seeds of the Byblis gigantea will only germinate after a fire? And if you want to grow these small plants, you must actually create a small fire? Or that the carnivorous plant called The Rainbow Plant (Byblis) is named after a woman in a Greek mythology, named Byblis, who cries so much that she turns herself into a fountain? Or did you know that some pitcher plants can digest small mammals? If these facts tickle your curiosity, then welcome to the family. Carnivorous plant cultivation and education ensures these endangered and mystifying plants survive for the future years to come.

tempestThe Tempest starring Helen Mirren and Felicity Jones, DVD Tempest

This modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s last work is an astonishing accomplishment by director Julia Taymor and Helen Mirren, who plays the leading role of sorcerer Prospera. This modern re-telling places a woman in one of the leading roles of Shakespeare, which works marvelously. The Tempest is a story of family, aging, the relationship between a person and their passion in life, and also, when it is time to let go of one’s power and place. It is the story of the transformation of a sorcerer into something much more tricky to be: a human being. With great performances from Felicity Jones, Ben Wishaw, Djimon Hounsou, and of course, Helen Mirren, this Shakespeare adaptation is incredibly memorable, and I will confess, when I saw it years ago, it was the first time I “got” Shakespeare.

Hubbell – Circulation

tyrantTyrant starring Adam Rayner and Ashraf Barhom, New DVD Tyrant, Season 1

Tyrant is a modern drama whose plot is loosely drawn from the recent political revolutions in the Middle East. Bassam “Barry” Al-Fayeed reluctantly returns to his father’s kingdom, the fictional and politically fractured Middle Eastern country of Abuddin, for the wedding of his nephew. Barry has wiped away the memories of growing up as Abuddin’s prince, but returns with his American wife, Molly (Jennifer Finnigan), and their two children. During their stay, however, Barry’s violent and sociopathic brother Jamal (Ashraf Barhom) looks to gain control of the country following their father’s death and Barry chooses to stay to guide his homeland on a rough path to democracy. Tyrant was created by the acclaimed Homeland producer Gideon Raff and its second season just began in June of 2015.

Jacob – Circulation

runningthebooksRunning the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg, Nonfiction 027.665 Ste

This memoir is about a young man who takes a job on a whim as a prison librarian. He thinks the job is going to be pretty straightforward and not too tricky. He learns rather quickly, though, that this is not your typical job. He must navigate the murky waters of helping inmates who want nothing more than to be out of prison and appeasing a prison system that want to keep them locked up and orderly. Steinberg details this dichotomy wonderfully, while also describing the numerous characters he encounters while at work. This is an insightful read with a touch of humor.

Brigitte – Circulation

burningloveBurning Love starring Michael Ian Black and Ken Marino, New DVD Burning Love, Season 1 and Season 2 & 3

Do you love The Bachelor? Do you hate reality television? Do you like comedy? Then this is the show for you. Burning Love is a satirical “reality show” based on modern dating shows. Produced by Ben Stiller and starring Michael Ian Black, Ken Marino, and June Diane Raphael, these DVDs will keep you laughing.

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November!

So here were are in crisp November just around the corner to Thanksgiving. Here are some things to make your holiday a little warmer.

Melissa – Reference

13503109This Is How You Lose Her” – by Junot Diaz – NEW FICTION: DIAZ
 
Diaz has compiled several short stories with a continual protagonist by the name of Yunior.  He has a really unique voice; he is intelligent and educated but still at home on the streets.  Each story is about the universal topic of love and all its forms; from romantic to familial, simple to complex.  However, though each chapter is an exploration of love, they are retrospective, thereby centering on loss. 
            Diaz fluctuates frequently between Spanish and English, and while my Spanish is elementary at best, there were few instances where meaning was lost.  Diaz is truly a gifted writer, and I often found myself repeating his lines to myself. 
 
Turn of the Screw” – by Henry James – YA: James
 
n511912542_1665309_8017171This book is one my all-time favorites.  A group of friends begin to share ghost stories around the fire, which leads to the telling of an old tale.  A governess is hired to care for two children in a country house, and after some time, she begins to see the figures of a man and woman, whom she later learns are the former governess and former valet. 
            James leads the readers through the psychological thriller, preying of the fear of the unknown.  Unlike many other tales, James does not attempt to explain the phenomena.  Doing so can often cause the tale to lose something, and the focus is on the questions rather than the answers. 
 
Jacob – Circulation
 
148821Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture” – by: Ross King – NONFICTION: 726.6 KIN 

Brunelleschi’s Dome tells the story of an unlikely architect who found a solution to finishing the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in 15th century Florence, Italy. His clever solution won him many critics, but also fans. One fan in particular was said to be Leonardo Da Vinci. Scholars believe that some of the Da Vinci’s mechanical drawings were inspired by the elaborate cranes Brunelleschi designed to complete the dome. This is a great Renaissance read.

10690678Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” – By: Michael Lewis – NONFICTION: 796.357 LEW

This is a great baseball book. It looks closely at the Oakland Athletics and their general manager Billy Beane. Beane realizes that Oakland will never be able to compete with the larger market teams such as New York with their giant payrolls, so he devises a whole new way of fielding a team. He and his staff begin analyzing players using statistics and metrics that no other team is using. Within a couple of years, Oakland is consistently competing for the playoffs, while spending a fraction of what teams like the Yankees are spending. This book turned the baseball world upside down and highlighted the genius of Billy Beane.

Michelle – Administration

16655352“Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story” – By: Arnold Schwarzenegger – NEW NONFICTION: 921 SCHWARTZENEGGER

This is an in-depth look at the very interesting life of a man who has been Mr. Universe, a huge action star, a businessman and the Governator.  Schwarzenegger doesn’t shy away from the unflattering, while making sure you are aware of all he has accomplished.

 

Green_Day_-_Uno!_cover“Uno!” – By: Green Day – NEW AUDIO: 781.66 GREEN DAY

Green Day return to their simple punk roots, leaving the rock operas behind.  The songs are short and snappy and stick in your mind long after you’ve stopped listening. This is the first album in a three part release over the next couple months.

 

 

battleship-dvd-cover-35“Battleship” – Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson, Rihanna – NEW DVDs: BATTLESHIP

After the movie was panned by critics, I didn’t have high expectations but Battleship provided entertainment and explosions.  What more can you ask for? If you are looking for pure movie fluff, this is the DVD for you.

 

 

Check back next month for more recommendations from the library!

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