Tag Archives: gentle fiction

February 2017

feb2017coverIt’s February! Let’s hope for an early spring and in the meantime enjoy the recommended titles below.

 

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

roomwithsecondbestviewThe Room with the Second Best View by Virginia Smith, New Fiction Smith

This is the third book in the delightful Goose Creek series (preceded by The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade andSirius: The Little Dog Who Almost Changed History by Jonathan Crown). In this book, Millie and Al are working on the Victorian house they bought with plans to convert it to a bed and breakfast. They aren’t planning on opening for a couple of years yet, but with their close friends Justin and Susan getting married soon, Millie has invited some of the wedding guests to stay at the house (without telling Al, of course.) When Justin’s formidable great aunt shows up three weeks before the wedding, will Al be able to survive her demands and will Justin and Susan survive her attempts to take over the wedding planning? Meanwhile, Millie and her best friend have had a falling out over preparations for the town’s 150th anniversary celebration. If you want a fun and light, feel-good read, I recommend the titles in this series. Also includes recipes.

hundredpiecesofmeA Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon, Fiction Dillon

Gina is rebuilding her life after a serious illness and divorce. She decides to simplify her life and keep the 100 things that mean the most to her. When she is landed with an underfed, frightened greyhound who has been abused, Gina, who is not a dog person and knows nothing about caring for a dog, decides to drop him off at a shelter, but as he grows on her and she sees in him another being who needs a fresh start in life, they develop a bond. The book shines a light on the abuse often suffered by greyhounds used for dog racing when they don’t perform well or get old or injured. This is a bittersweet and touching story about healing from past wounds and moving forward.

midnightplanThe Midnight Plan of the Repo Man by W. Bruce Cameron, Fiction Cameron

This mystery is loads of fun! It has humor, suspense, action, supernatural elements, romance, loyal friendships, and a cute dog. Ruddy is a former college football star down-on-his luck and now working as a repo man. When he begins to hear a voice speaking to him, he fears he is losing his mind. But it turns out to be the voice of a murdered man named Alan who wants Ruddy to help him bring his killers to justice. Throw in a good-looking but dim-witted best friend, a sister trying to keep the family business afloat, her harebrained new boyfriend, and the daughter of the murdered man, for whom Ruddy falls hard, and you have a laugh-out-loud supernatural mystery that will keep you compulsively reading until the final page. The lead and supporting characters are a delight and you root for them to succeed as they get into one jam after another.

ordinarygraceOrdinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, Fiction Krueger

Touching and beautifully written, this is a gripping coming-of-age novel about tragic loss and finding hope in the aftermath of such loss. The events of the summer of 1961, when Frank Drum was 13 years old and living along the Minnesota River with his parents, older sister, and younger brother, changed all their lives. Frank tells his story 40 years later, looking back at that fateful summer. It was a summer filled with tragedy, beginning with the death of a boy hit by a train and followed by more personal losses for Frank and his family. Though suffering great loss, the family also experienced small miracles that summer that brought healing to their broken lives.

gooddogGood Dog: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Loyalty edited by David DiBenedetto, Nonfiction 636.7 Dib

Celebrating the special place dogs hold in our hearts, this is a collection of over 50 essays, by turns funny and moving, written by a multitude of noted authors about dogs that have touched their lives. Each dog is unique and special in his or her own way, with quirky personality traits, yet all the essays have one thing in common: the love the authors have for their dogs and how that love was returned wholly and unconditionally.

Pat – Circulation

sullySully starring Tom Hanks, New DVD Sully

On January 15, 2009, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed a U.S. Airways jet with 155 passengers and crew in the middle of the Hudson River in New York City after Flight 1549 was struck by a flock of Canadian geese seconds after takeoff from La Guardia Airport. He saved all aboard and became a hero around the world.

Sully is portrayed by Tom Hanks, who is brilliant, and in every role he plays he is fully committed. The story itself also provides some interesting insight into the event. Clint Eastwood does a good job of making a story we already think we know interesting. Definitely enjoyed it and thought it worth seeing.

Chris – Circulation

Image result for loveless my bloody valentineLoveless by My Bloody Valentine, CD 781.66 MY BLOODY VALENTINE

With the theme of Valentine’s Day comes Loveless by My Bloody Valentine, but for those who may be less fortunate in this area. This album is heralded as the definitive shoegaze album by both critics and fans. Originating in the late 1980s, shoegaze is a subgenre of alternative rock that got its name from the performance style of of the artists-they often get enveloped in their own world and just gaze down at their shoes instead of the crowd. That being said, this is a very personal style that the listener can get lost in especially with headphones. My Bloody Valentine piles layers upon layers of guitar effects and distortion in their production, burying the vocals underneath and in effect giving them a dreamlike quality. This style is in full effect on Loveless, thus why the album has become synonymous with shoegaze.

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June

It’s June! EnjoyJune2016cover the beautiful weather outside and check out the recommended titles below.

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

brittmarieBritt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman, New Fiction Backman

This is another outstanding novel from Fredrik Backman, author of A Man Called Ove, full of warmth, love, and wisdom. Britt-Marie is separated from her husband after 40 years of marriage. She is so afraid of being alone – of dying alone – that she wants a job, any job she can get just so people know she is there. After hounding the girl who works at the unemployment office, Britt-Marie gets the position of caretaker for a shut down recreation center in the dying town of Borg. Once she gets to Borg, she finds herself getting involved in the lives of the remaining residents, especially a pair of siblings who play soccer even though their soccer pitch has been sold and their coach has passed away.

Britt-Marie has dedicated herself to others all her life, first her parents and sister, then her husband, so that she never learned how to be herself or found out what she wanted from her life. A tragedy in her childhood has shaped her life and her husband didn’t respect her, crushed her actually, and she let him, so her self-esteem at the beginning of her journey is zero. However, in Borg, Britt-Marie starts to open herself to new experiences and learn to let go of her pretensions and live a little. Britt-Marie is a very sympathetic character who you will root for to finally live for herself and make the correct choices. The supporting cast of characters are also wonderful. Backman excels at creating eccentric, lovable characters. The book is exceedingly funny and also sad, but leaves you feeling uplifted.

MrRosenblumMr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons, Fiction Solomons

This is a lovely book, gentle and sweet and beautifully written. Jack and Sadie are German Jews who left Germany in the 1930’s and emigrated to England. Upon arrival, they were given a handbook explaining English customs and how to assimilate. Jack took the handbook to heart and his greatest wish is to be the quintessential English gentleman. He makes a list of goals and eventually achieves them, except for being granted membership in a golf club. His name and his accent seem to prevent him from being fully accepted. So Jack decides to build his own golf course. He buys land in Dorset and uproots his wife from their London home to move to the country and build his course. The rest of the book details Jack’s trials and tribulations getting his course built and explores his relationship with his wife and daughter, as well as life in a small village. Jack’s wife, Sadie, lost her parents and younger brother to the Holocaust and she suffers from survivor guilt and depression over this since she escaped and they didn’t. Meanwhile, Jack is eternally cheerful and optimistic, so there is a divide between them. Jack is a wonderful character – you can’t help but root for him and feel for him when things don’t go his way.

curiouscharmsThe Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick, New Fiction Patrick

This is a lovely story about a man grieving the loss of his wife and finding his way again. A year after the death of his wife Miriam, Arthur is packing up her clothing to give away when he comes across a charm bracelet with eight charms on it. He doesn’t recall ever seeing Miriam wearing the bracelet and he wonders about it. One of the charms, an Indian elephant with an emerald, has an Indian phone number engraved on it. Arthur calls this number and speaks to a man who knew his wife when he was a child. Arthur had no idea Miriam had ever been in India and this makes him question what else he didn’t know about her life before they met. This sets Arthur on a journey to discover the story of all the charms that will take him to different parts of England, as well as other countries, where he meets numerous people from Miriam’s past who take him out of his comfort zone and broaden his viewpoint. It is a spiritual journey as well as Arthur questions his life with Miriam and if he ever really knew her at all. Overall, this is a feel-good read as Arthur’s journey allows him to remember the love and joy of his married life and to be free to move forward, as well as reconnect with his children who have drifted from him since their mother’s death. Arthur is a sympathetic character and the various supporting characters all add color and charm to the novel.

Pat – Circulation

whenbreathWhen Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, New Nonfiction 616.994 Kal 

Paul Kalanithi was a talented and dedicated neurosurgeon who, against all odds, is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer while only in his thirties. This memoir tells the story of the almost two years from diagnosis until Dr. Kalanithi’s death. He was married to Lucy, who sounds like an amazing woman. When he died he had and infant daughter, Cady.

This book is and excellent and moving account of a terminal illness, an inspirational story, and a look at the human spirit.

Michelle – Administration

redqueen Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, YA Aveyard

I continue to find myself drawn to YA series and this was the next one to catch my eye. This rich fantasy series can be described as The Hunger Games meets a superhero origin story. In this story, society is divided into two groups, those with red blood and those who have evolved into having silver blood and a superpower. Thus, the Silvers rule while the Reds suffer through a despondent life and perpetual war. Things are turned upside down with the discovery of a red-blooded girl who has a superpower no one has seen before. The first two books in the series, Red Queen and Glass Sword, are out now. Books 3 and 4 have been commissioned and are expected to be released in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

deadpoolDeadpool starring Ryan Reynolds, New DVD Deadpool

After years of negotiation, Ryan Reynolds finally brought his Deadpool to the big screen. If you like superheroes, but wish they wouldn’t be so heroic all the time, then Deadpool is the hero you’ve been looking for. This fast-paced story isn’t for the faint-hearted, but if senseless violence, crude behavior, and dark humor are your thing – this is the movie for you! The movie also stars Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, and TJ Miller.

Dagmar – Circulation

mynameislucybMy Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, New Fiction Strout

Elizabeth Strout, who is a Pulitzer Prize winner for her previous novel, Olive Kittenridge, has a new powerful novel published: My Name is Lucy Barton. This time, the heroine of the story is raised in incredible, almost unbelievable poverty outside the small town of Amgash, Illinois. The youngest of three children in a greatly dysfunctional family, she takes refuge in school, where it is peaceful and warm. There she discovers her love for books. Especially one book makes a life- changing difference for Lucy. It is about a girl named Tilly, who is a little bit like Lucy. Tilly also endures a childhood full of hardship, and seems strange to others because she is dirty and poor. Books, Lucy explains, brought her things and made her feel less alone. So Lucy thinks that she will become a writer and write books and people would feel less alone. Due to her diligence at school, Lucy gets a college scholarship and thus is able to escape the family’s misery and poverty. While in college, she gets married, and moves with her new well-to-do husband to New York. While living there, Lucy seldom looks back. She is trying to get used to the idea of living in a big sophisticated city and raising her two beloved daughters, while also attempting to write. She has a lot to catch up on because she comes from a world which is incomprehensible to people living around her. not only did the family have little heat and little food, they had no books, no magazines, and no TV. When Lucy gets seriously ill, her wealthy husband asks Lucy’s mother to come to New York to keep her company while she is in the hospital. Five days which they spend together bring a lot of memories – good and bad – of the old days. Lucy and her mother reestablish their problematic but loving relationship. Eventually, Lucy becomes a published author and woman in her own right. After her daughters grow up, she divorces her distant husband, who developed an interest in another woman. She herself happily remarries later. It is a simple but a touching story which offers a wealth of emotion, from sadness and loneliness to simple joy and redemption.

Chris – Technical Services

joyJoy starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, New DVD Joy

This movie is funny, exasperating, depressing, and then…Joyful as she overcomes all obstacles.

 

 

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March

March2016coverIt’s March! Spring is just around the corner. In the meantime, enjoy the recommended titles below.

 

 

Sue – Circulation

goodnightmrwodehouseGood Night, Mr. Wodehouse by Faith Sullivan, New Fiction Sullivan

This sweeping novel opens in 1900 and tells the life story of Nell Stillman and her family and friends living in the small town of Harvester, Minnesota. Nell is left reeling when her husband dies suddenly, leaving her with an infant son. Through the kindness of the Lundeen family, wealthy locals who own several businesses, Nell gets hired as a schoolteacher and so is able to support her son Hilly and hire a cousin, Elvira, to care for him while she teaches. Nell becomes great friends with the Lundeens and their son and daughter-in-law and becomes a mother figure to Elvira. Over the course of several decades (the novel closes in 1961), we see small town life through Nell’s eyes. Nell is a kind-hearted and resilient heroine who faces life’s ups and downs with grace. She suffers the loss of friends and her one great love, suffers slights due to malicious gossip, and sees her son return from WWI with a broken mind, but throughout her life, her friends are there for her and make her life whole and rewarding. The book is really a celebration of friendship, specifically life-long friendships and how they enrich our lives. It also celebrates the power of reading and how books can help us through rough times, take us to places we’d otherwise never know, and broaden our minds and hearts. In the book, Nell falls in love with the works of P.G. Wodehouse and turns to him to lift her spirits. As a huge fan of P.G. Wodehouse myself, it tickles me that Faith Sullivan has found a way to honor one of her favorite authors through her fiction.

brokenwheelThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald, New Fiction Bivald

Amy and Sara are pen pals, bonded by their love of books. Amy lives in a small town in Iowa and Sara lives in Sweden. Sara comes for a planned two-month visit to find that Amy has passed away. So what is Sara to do? The rest of the townspeople insist that Sara remain and stay in Amy’s house. The town is very small and it was hit hard by the economic recession, so people are struggling, but everyone is welcoming to Sara, not letting her pay for anything and making her feel like she belongs. Sara decides to take Amy’s books (she had thousands of them) and use her closed shop to open a bookstore as a way to give back to the community by sharing Amy’s books with them. (Though Amy has already passed when the novel opens, we get to know her through her letters to Sara, interspersed throughout the book). Sara turns out to be a fabulous book seller – she can find just the right book for any person. The town and its residents slowly start to come back to life as they get involved with Sara and the bookstore. But what will happen when her visa expires? Ultimately, this is a book about community and belonging. Filled with memorable, quirky characters, a sweet love story, and numerous book references, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a warm and satisfying read. All the books mentioned in the novel are listed at the end, so it is also a great resource for finding books to read that you may have missed.

endeavourEndeavour starring Shaun Evans and Roger Allam, New DVD Endeavour, Series 1 and 2

Endeavour is a British detective series based on the Inspector Morse series that ran from 1987 to 2000 and starred the late John Thaw as Morse, a detective with the Oxford police. This series explores Morse as a young man just getting started in his detective career. Morse was famous for his curmudgeonly ways, his short temper, his love of beer, opera, and crossword puzzles, and his great skills as a detective. It is fun for fans of Inspector Morse to see the origins of the John Thaw Morse two decades earlier. Among other things, we see how his love of beer developed and get a glimpse of his famous red sports car. The show is set in Oxford in the mid-1960’s when Morse, played by Shaun Evans, joins the Oxford police as a detective constable after being promoted from a uniformed constable. The young Morse is solitary and reflective with a great mind, but not great social skills. Roger Allam co-stars as Morse’s boss, DI Fred Thursday, and his character is wonderful – a good and kind-hearted family man who sees Morse’s brilliance, supports his growth, and backs him against others in the force who resent Morse for his quick rise and superior brain. The two have a strong relationship and Allam’s performance is outstanding. Each episode solves a new case – the cases are normally quite complex and involved. The series has aired for three seasons and a fourth season has been ordered.

Dagmar – Circulation

strangerheremyselfI’m a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away by Bill Bryson, Nonfiction 973.92 Bry

An Anglo-American author, Bill Bryson, who is known for his humorous books on travel (A Walk in the Woods, etc.) has a new book out, called The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain, which is, of course, about his travels in England. The book is now available in our library. I have not read his new book yet, but I read and liked many others he has written. My personal favorite Bryson book is I Am a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away. Bryson once joked that there are three things in life which you can’t do: you can’t beat the phone company, you can’t make a waiter see you unless he is ready to see you, and you can’t go home again. Yet, after living in Britain for two decades, he moved back to the States in 1995 with his English wife and four children. He had left as a youth and was returning in his middle age. He settled in Hanover, New Hampshire, and found himself in charge of an old house in New England. There he started to discover that, at times, he was being mildly foolish and out of touch. He puzzled over ATM machines, automated gas pumps, and phones. Many good things about America for him were a bit of a novelty, such as the conveniences of daily life, the abundance of absolutely everything, the friendliness of waitresses, the wondrous, unfillable vastness of an American basement, the notion that ice is not a luxury item, and the notion that rooms can have more than one electrical outlet. He marveled at the fact that a letter from England addressed to “Mr. Bill Bryson, Author of A Walk in the Woods, Lives Somewhere in New Hampshire, America” was delivered to him just five days after it was mailed. He congratulated the U.S. Postal Service for this unassailable triumph. Bryson discovered that you indeed can go home again. The result is this extended, if often bemused, love letter to his homeland.

learningtodriveLearning to Drive starring Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley, New DVD Learning

Learning to Drive is a delightful film about an unlikely friendship that develops between two people in New York from very different walks of life. Wendy is a successful book editor and critic who is in a lot of emotional turmoil because her husband has just left her. She has to make a lot of adjustments to her new life and one of them is that she has to learn how to drive if she wants to (among other things) visit her daughter in Vermont. She hires Darwan, a gentle Indian driving instructor, and a former college professor on the brink of an arranged marriage, to teach her how to drive. That, as it turns out, is not always an easy task. In the process, they learn valuable lessons about life, friendship, and relationships.

Theresa – Youth Services

deathatprioryDeath at the Priory: Love, Sex, and Murder in Victorian England by James Ruddick, Nonfiction 364.152 Rud

When Florence Ricardo, a beautiful widow, married successful attorney Charles Bravo, she quickly found out what an awful man he really was. After taking ill one evening, Bravo died an agonizing death later determined to be caused by poisoning. Florence, of course, became a suspect, along with a cast of characters including her lover and her companion and housekeeper, as well as a disgruntled former employee. This case was the talk of the day. Being a true story, the author pieced together newspaper articles and court testimony. The case was never solved due to lack of evidence, but the author leads the reader to conclude that there is only one person who could have committed the crime. This book gives a true depiction of how women in this era had few rights, even when it came to matters over their own bodies. They had to secretly take it upon themselves to deal with their personal miseries in whatever ways possible.

This is a must-read if you enjoyed Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson and/or Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul by Karen Abbott.

Michelle – Administration

nflconfidentialNFL Confidential: True Confessions from the Gutter of Football by Johnny Anonymous, New Nonfiction 796.332 Ano

I was attracted to this book by its promise to show the reader what the NFL is really like behind the scenes. It doesn’t quite deliver on its promise – most of the “confidential” parts are pretty well-known. However, Johnny Anonymous provides an interesting look at a season in his career as a third-string player. The writing is quick, witty, and fun to read – just don’t expect any earth-shattering revelations!

Hubbell – Circulation

mrrobotMr. Robot starring Rami Malek, New DVD Mr. Robot, Season 1

Starring Rami Malek, Christian Slater, and others, Mr. Robot was one of the best shows of 2015. It tells the story of Elliot, who is a cyber-security analyst by day and an anonymous activist hacker by night. But he is troubled by inner demons, hallucinations, and social pressures. Mr. Robot is a gripping social commentary on greed and economic inequality.

forensicsForensics: What Bugs, Burns, Prints, DNA, and More Tell Us About Crime by Val McDermid, Nonfiction 363.25 McD

Author Val McDermid is an experienced crime fiction writer; this is her second non-fiction work. It takes a detailed look at the history of forensic science, including arson and insect and pathological forensics. The history is explained through real-life crime synopses, making for a thrilling and informative read.

17761776 by David McCullough, Nonfiction 973.3 McC

1776 is an incredibly well-researched history of the most formative year in the country’s history. The first year of combat in the War for Independence was a rough one for Washington and the Continental Army. McCullough’s work, which stands out from other Revolutionary War histories, concentrates on the military personalities and events during 1776. It is as inspiring as it is interesting.

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February

February2016It’s February! Let’s hope for an early spring and stay warm inside with a good book!

 

 

Sue – Circulation

goosecreekThe Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade by Virginia Smith, New Fiction Smith

This is a charming book, the first title in a new series about Goose Creek, Kentucky, and its residents. The book centers around Al and Millie, a married couple with grown children. Al is near retirement and looks forward to peaceful days and some traveling. Millie, however, has other ideas and plays her husband of nearly 40 years just right to get her way. She wants to buy a dilapidated house in town and turn it into a bed and breakfast. Al is horrified by the idea and sees his retirement dreams going up in flames. Will he be able to put the kibosh on Millie’s plan or will he soon be a new business owner instead of a retiree? Meanwhile, the new veterinarian in town gets off on the wrong foot with one of the most outspoken residents of the town. Will she ever get a client or is she finished before she’s even begun? Then there is Norman, incensed that the mayor isn’t giving the job of painting the town’s water tower to his son, Little Norm, who did such a bad job the first time around that it needs to be repainted already. Norman launches an all-out campaign against the Town Council, dividing the residents into two sides. Funny and light with a warm heart, this is an enjoyable read and I look forward to more Goose Creek tales. The second book is called Renovating the Richardsons and it is being published on February 1, 2016.

thrushgreenAt Home in Thrush Green by Miss Read, Fiction Read

A title in the Thrush Green series by British author Miss Read that inspired Jan Karon’s Mitford series. This is a gentle read that follows the lives of a group of people living in a small village in the Cotswolds. The characters include Charles, the kind-hearted vicar, his gentle wife Dimity, Dimity’s brash best friend Ella, eccentric Dotty with her household of animals, Albert, the ill-tempered sexton, the maiden schoolteachers Miss Watson and Miss Fogerty, and others. The books are comforting and slow-paced and take you back to a simpler time and a simpler life. No violence, no bad language, no modern technology, just a group of people living out their lives in a small community. The series began in the 1950’s and continued until the 1990’s, but all the books in the series have an old-fashioned charm. This title chronicles a year of life in Thrush Green. New homes for elderly residents are being built in the village on the site of the former rectory that burned down the previous year. Some problems arise as the homes are built and once the residents move in, but in the end all is resolved and the village is peaceful once more. This is a sweet, charming series for those who enjoy gentle reads and reading about English country life and want an escape from the hectic and violent real world.

sitstayspeakSit! Stay! Speak! by Annie England Noblin, New Fiction Noblin

Addie inherits her late aunt’s house in the small town of Eunice, Arkansas, and moves there from Chicago. She plans on moving back to Chicago once she fixes up and sells the house, but is happy for a respite. Since losing her fiance in an accident two years ago, she doesn’t feel at home in Chicago anymore. But in Arkansas, Addie finds a whole new set of problems facing her. On her arrival in Eunice, Addie finds a pit bull terrier puppy who has been badly abused and left for dead. She adopts him and names him Felix. While nursing Felix back to health, Addie makes friends with the local vet tech and meets a man named Jasper, for whom she develops romantic feelings, but he sends her mixed signals. As Addie investigates what happened to Felix, she uncovers illegal activity going on in town and gets herself on the bad side of a dangerous man. It turns out life in Eunice isn’t so simple after all. Though it deals with serious issues, the book is a comfort read with charm, romance, and a happy ending for both Addie and Felix. The book also includes authentic Southern recipes, including hush puppies, cheese grits, and chocolate gravy.

Michelle – Administration

martian The Martian starring Matt Damon, New DVD Martian

Full disclosure – I did not read the book! However, this movie was even better than I anticipated. Matt Damon created a lovable character that the audience could really root for. He was very entertaining, even though he spent most of the movie without a co-star. The movie is able to maintain a high level of suspense throughout that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Ant-Man starring Paul Rudd, New DVD Ant-Man (Blu Ray)antman

Not being familiar with the character before watching the movie, I couldn’t imagine a movie about a man turning into an ant being a good watch. I gave it the benefit of the doubt since Marvel has yet to let me down and they did it again. It is a great, funny movie with a lot of action. I will never look at ants the same way!

Dagmar – Circulation

fourseasonsinromeFour Season in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World by Anthony Doerr, Nonfiction 914.5 Doe

Many readers are probably familiar with the talented and successful author Anthony Doerr. For his writings, Doerr has won numerous prizes and awards, including the Rome Prize, one of the most prestigious awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which came with a stipend and a writing studio in Rome for a year. Doerr learned about the award on the day his wife Shauna and he came home from the hospital with their newborn twins. Doerr and his wife moved from Boise, Idaho, to Rome to spend a year at the American Academy when his twin boys, Henry and Owen, were only six months old. Doerr had planned to work on a new novel, which several years later became the highly acclaimed All the Light We Cannot See. In the process, however, he was enchanted by life in the Eternal City and wrote this delightful book as a result of his stay and experiences. He exquisitely describes his adventures in one of the most enchanting cities in the world – visits to piazzas and temples, and the vigil of a dying Pope John Paul II; but he also writes about the fun and frustration of living in a foreign country, about learning to negotiate everyday life in this “new” old world. He embraces these experiences, including the encounters with local grocers, bakers, and butchers of his neighborhood and makes them a part of his “Roman holiday.” This lovely, intimate book is a combination of a celebration of life in Rome, a fresh and wondrous look at new parenthood, and a fascinating look at creating the writer’s craft.

Hubbell – Circulation

lingoLingo: Around Europe in 60 Languages by Gaston Dorren, New Nonfiction 306.44 Dor

Despite the extensive linguistic study of most European languages, many details still remain under the surface. Dorren’s book takes a fun look at some of the lesser known European tongues. Each quick chapter focuses on a specific language or language family. Not too dense, the book lays out European linguistic diversity in an accessible manner and ties in the important historical causes of linguistic change.

bigshortThe Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis, Nonfiction 330.973 Lew

A hit movie in 2015, Michael Lewis’ The Big Short is the definitive insider’s look at the housing market crash that took place in the late 2000’s. It exposes just how few people it took to capsize the American economy. Lewis, a former investment banker himself, shows his unique insight into the greedy world of mortgage-backed securities trading.

boomerangBoomerang: Travels in the New Third World by Michael Lewis, Nonfiction 330.9 Lew

Written by the author of The Big Short and Blindside, Lewis’ book about global financial bubbles is hilarious and terrifying. He tells us why Italians and Greeks don’t pay their taxes and why everyday Icelandic fishermen became the country’s largest investing bloc. Then, after lambasting the international financial scene, Lewis brings the message home and shows us Americans are no better at preventing or forecasting these catastrophic events.

Mary – Youth Services

edwardgoreyEdward Gorey: His Book Cover Art & Design by Steven Heller, New Nonfiction 741.6 Hel

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Edward Gorey was an American illustrator. Best known for his gleefully macabre style, Gorey’s art embellished his own books, cartoons (the most famous being the opening sequence for the PBS Mystery! series), as well as hundreds of book covers for other writers. He illustrated covers which re-imagined the works of authors like Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad, and Henry James. (On the subject of Henry James, Gorey famously said “I hate him more than anyone else…” Yet, he proceeded to do multiple covers of his work.) Edward Gorey: His Book Cover Art & Design is a collection of Gorey’s cover art, chronicling lesser-known covers he illustrated for other writers. Edward Gorey remains a singularity in the art field. Eclectic in personality and artistic style, this collection is a testament to the sheer volume and quality of his work, the likes of which we will perhaps never see again.

mrholmesMr. Holmes starring Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, and Milo Parker, New DVD Mr. Holmes

Based on the Holmes pastiche novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind, the film Mr. Holmes imagines the retirement years of the most famous fictional character of all times. Sherlock Holmes now lives in Sussex, with his housekeeper and her son. The narrative which follows is gorgeously shot, and has an intimate understanding of what it means to age, and the confusion and horror that accompanies irrevocable memory loss. Mr. Holmes, overall though, is a quiet film, but one that should not be overlooked. In the domestic scenes that take place in Sussex, all the way to Japan, this adaptation of Holmes gets right what most cannot: a look into the humanity of our favorite detective. Starring Ian McKellen, who, as always, is flawless.

madmaxMad Max: Fury Road starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, and Nicholas Hoult, New DVD Mad Max

Having declared myself as not liking action films, I recently had to revoke my membership in the Please-Not-Another-Blow-Them-Up-Action-Flick Club. Mad Max: Fury Road is to blame. The post-apocalyptic world George Miller creates on-screen is a believably selfish; a world on the brink of ecological crisis. With water as a scarce resource, and women being exploited for their bodies, the leading regime is on the verge of collapse. Two individuals who escaped the dictatorship, Furiosa and Max, lead a crusade to free women and slaves. What follows is indescribably heart-pumping, dizzying action. Mad Max: Fury Road may be a glimpse at our own post-apocalyptic future, but it is one still filled with hope. Redemption ultimately rests in the hands of women, and they are not going down without a fight.

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March

Marchcoverdog

March is here. We’ve almost survived another winter! Enjoy the thaw with a good book.

 

 

Jacob – Circulation

wintersboneWinter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell, Fiction Woodrell 

Facing the prospect of losing the family home, a young girl must track down the whereabouts of her deadbeat dad. On her search, Ree discovers a lot about herself, her father, and her rural community. Set in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Woodrell crafts a chilling story that leaves you astounded by the courageous actions of the story’s heroine. A very good read.

blueberryyearsThe Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family by Jim Minick, Nonfiction 634.737 Min

Jim Minick has a dream of owning and operating an organic blueberry farm. This is his story. It details everything from his struggles with pesky critters and hot Virginia sun to the triumphs of the first berries and the people who pick them. Because Jim chronicles his experience with humor, the book is entertaining and informative.

Sue – Circulation

thehumansThe Humans by Matt Haig, Fiction Haig

I loved this funny, compelling, and deeply touching novel. When a Cambridge mathematics professor named Andrew proves a complex mathematical hypothesis, an advanced species from a distant galaxy comes to earth and kills him. They feel that humans are not ready to handle the consequences of the knowledge this breakthrough would lead to. They send an alien of their species to earth to impersonate the professor. His job: to kill anyone with whom the professor shared his knowledge, as well as his wife and son. This species is devoid of emotion; they are completely logical. Much of the humor in the book comes from the alien Andrew interacting with humans. For example, when he first arrives, he is nude and he can’t believe the uproar this lack of clothing causes. As alien Andrew continues to live on earth and among humans, including the wife and son, he begins to feel emotions for the first time, which confuses him greatly. He has been told that humans are destructive and greedy. He sees this, but he also begins to see more: he listens to music and is moved by the beauty of it; he enjoys eating peanut butter; he finds wisdom in the poems of Emily Dickinson. When he grows to love the family dog, he is in serious trouble. Now that he knows love – completely illogical, yet wonderful, and like nothing he has ever experienced on his home planet, how can he fulfill his mission and kill the two humans closest to him?

hill top farmThe Tale of Hill Top Farm: The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter by Susan Wittig Albert, Fiction Albert

The first book in an eight-book series, this is a gentle read featuring Beatrix Potter, the author, illustrator, and naturalist, set in the Lake District of England, where Potter in her later life became a farmer. Her farms have been preserved by the National Trust and can still be visited today. This series is a fictionalized account of Potter’s life, with many accurate historical facts. It takes place from the time she buys her first farm in the Lake District to her marriage of a local man. In each book, Potter solves a mystery in the community. The local animal population plays a large role in each book and helps to solve the mysteries. A charming series, especially for animal lovers and those who appreciate life in the country.

broadchurchBroadchurch, starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman, DVD Broadchurch, Season 1

This British drama is set in Dorset, England, along the coast. It tells a single story across eight episodes. The body of an 11-year-old boy is found on the beach in the small, close-knit community of Broadchurch. DS Miller and her new boss, DI Hardy, investigate the case. Miller is a local and close friends with the mother of the murdered boy, while Hardy is a newcomer to the area with a questionable past. The show is powerful and intense, dealing with such a terrible event, and each episode is gripping as the story deepens and we see how many lives are affected by the murder and watch as the community is torn apart. The show is extremely well-done and deals honestly with the emotions of the characters caught up in the drama. We see the press descend on the town and innocent people suffer as gossip and suspicion grow. The show had a shocking ending that I didn’t foresee. A second season will air in 2015, with many of the cast members from season one returning.

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd, Fiction Todd

dutyThe first in a mystery series by the excellent historical fiction author Charles Todd. This series centers around the life of Bess Crawford, an English colonel’s daughter who grew up in India and is now serving as a nurse on the battlefields of World War I. In this story, a dying soldier asks Bess to deliver a message to his family. While on leave, Bess visits the family and becomes suspicious about their reactions to the message. As she investigates further, she becomes involved in a murder mystery involving the dead soldier’s brother and uncovers years of lies and deception. The book evokes the atmosphere of the age and the mysteries are compelling and complex. I also highly recommend Todd’s Ian Rutledge mystery series, set in the immediate years after World War I and focusing on a Scotland Yard detective who returned from battle suffering from shell shock and his struggles to return to society as he investigates cases.

Mary – Youth Services

goodomensGood Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Fiction Gaiman

This book was definitely out of my comfort zone. But sometimes, that’s quite a good thing. In this seamless collaboration, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett create a story about our world, but in what appears to be the not-so-distant future of the impending apocalypse. The story focuses on an angel named Aziraphale (part-time antique book dealer, full-time angel) and Crowley (demon who inspired Eve to eat the forbidden fruit). Both Crowley and Aziraphale come to an unlikely partnership because – after all they have done to meddle in human affairs – they find that they quite like living a mortal human life. (The sushi restaurants, mostly.) Filled with irreverent humor, and a British touch for linguistics, I would recommend Good Omens to any fantasy lover, or any fan of quite clever British humor.

affinityAffinity by Sarah Waters, Fiction Waters

Recovering from a suicide attempt, Margaret Prior has been urged to look into charity work as a remedy for her failing mind. She agrees, and volunteers in the women’s ward of Millbank Prison, London. While at the prison, Margaret meets an enigmatic prisoner, Selina Dawes, who is a self-proclaimed spiritualist and medium. Both Margaret and Selina grow close in each other’s company, and finally, they try to find a way for them both to escape their suffocating lives – and against all odds, to set Selina free. Set in the Victorian Era, this novel is a whirlwind of desire, lies, desolation, and most of all, the hope for freedom that those on the fringes of society long for.

 thisisallyoursThis is All Yours by Alt-J, New Music 781.66 Alt-J

Here we are again reviewing another Alt-J album, but you can’t help it; their music is phenomenal. This is All Yours is an otherworldly blend of dull melancholy, combining elements of rock, indie, and electronic sounds that is sure to be unlike anything you have ever heard. Alt-J is a new sort of Radiohead; a quiet place in a noisy world.

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