Tag Archives: historical fiction

November

November2016It’s November! Be thankful for all the good in your life and enjoy the recommendations below.

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

biglittlelifeA Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog by Dean Koontz, Nonfiction 636.7 Koo

Novelist Dean Koontz’s tribute to his first dog, a very intelligent golden retriever named Trixie. Trixie was trained as a service dog before being adopted by Koontz and his wife after being retired early from service due to elbow surgery. Koontz was enchanted by Trixie’s joyful spirit. She opened his heart to the wonder of the world and made him a better person grateful for the small moments of life. The book details how Trixie came into the Koontz family’s life and some of their experiences together until her death due to natural causes.

Koontz is a real champion of dogs and an amazing dog parent. He has great respect for dogs’ intelligence and their emotional depth and sensitivity and no patience for people who believe dogs are stupid or don’t think or feel. Of course, no one who has ever loved a dog would for a moment believe dogs aren’t sentient or intelligent.

Koontz speaks of the characteristics of dogs that he admires and that we should strive to achieve more of in our lives, including loyalty, unfailing love, humbleness, a sense of wonder, forgiveness, and gratitude. Trixie taught him to cherish your loved ones while you have them so you’ll have precious memories when they are gone and to be aware of the wonder of everyday moments. You can feel the love Koontz has for this dog and dogs as a whole and what a remarkable dog Trixie was. A lovely tribute to Trixie and to the beautiful nature of all dogs told with life-affirming warmth and humor.

naturalvetguideThe Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs by Dr. Shawn Messonnier, Nonfiction 637.7 Mes

Dogs get cancer the same as people and often the same factors are involved, including an unhealthy diet and over-exposure to chemicals. This book is written for the layman by a vet who specializes in nutritional oncology. It discusses holistic approaches to both treating and preventing cancer in dogs. Nothing can 100% prevent cancer, but there are steps you can take to minimize your dog’s risk. Dr. Messonnier suggests such measures as: feeding a healthy diet – he recommends a homemade diet or a high quality processed food, no chemicals or by-products; don’t over-vaccinate – vaccines are important, but most vaccines last for several years at least, so annual vaccination is an unnecessary tax on your dog’s immune system. Instead, do a titer test to determine that antibodies exist in your dog’s system against the disease, then you know a vaccine is not necessary again; minimize exposure to chemicals – use natural flea control, avoid drugs if there is a natural alternative; i.e. glucosamine instead of Rimadyl or NSAIDS, use natural products to clean your house, and do not put chemicals on your lawn where your dog regularly plays; prevent other illnesses through a healthy lifestyle, as well as preventative measures such as spaying/neutering, using heartworm preventative, etc; and visit your vet regularly and include annual blood work.

For dogs diagnosed with cancer, Dr. Messonnier suggests all of the above, stressing no vaccinations and a healthy diet, combined with a program of conventional and complementary therapies. Conventional therapies include: surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Complementary therapies may include: nutritional supplements, herbal remedies, acupuncture, homeopathy and homotoxicology, and chiropractic. The doctor warns that dog caregivers should not self-treat: herbal remedies can be dangerous if taken in improper quantities or combined with certain drugs. Make sure a qualified vet oversees your dog’s treatment. The book also includes appendixes, references, and an index.

ripperstreetRipper Street starring Matthew Macfadyen, New DVD Ripper, Season 1

Set shortly after the Jack the Ripper murders ended, this is a gritty, compelling series about the detectives of Whitechapel Division. DI Edmund Reid is a decent man charged with keeping peace in this poor and violent area of East London. He is assisted by his sergeant, Drake, and a drunken American surgeon, Jackson. Reid is haunted both by the death of his daughter and his failure to solve the Ripper case. The main characters are strong and they grow and develop as the series continues. The series has aired four seasons. The fifth season, which will air in 2017, will be the final season.

nightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, New Fiction Hannah

This is a beautifully told story of two sisters in occupied France during World War II. Vianne has a young daughter and fears for her husband at the front. She just wants to get through the war and get her life back. This becomes more complicated when a Wehrmacht captain requisitions her home and moves in. Meanwhile, Vianne’s younger sister Isabelle rebels against the Vichy government and secretly joins the Resistance. Both women are forced to make desperate choices to survive as the war goes on; both are heroic in their own way. The book is very moving, showing the sacrifices people made for the war effort and for each other in a terrible time in history.

Jette – Shelving

envyEnvy by Sandra Brown, Fiction Brown

Wow – what a thriller with all the twists and turns of a great suspense novel! It’s a love story, yet a revenge story and a book within a book! It will keep you wanting to go on whether you have the time or not…a must read. The book is strictly for adults, not for religious people or people under age 21, due to its language and scintillating innuendos. Brown outdoes James Patterson here.

Hubbell – Circulation

piratehuntersPirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson, Nonfiction 910.9163 or New CD 910.9163 (audiobook)

John Chatterton is a renowned deep sea diver, wreck explorer, and History Channel TV host known for famously discovering and identifying a sunken German U-boat on the eastern American seaboard. John Mattera is a scuba enthusiast, former celebrity bodyguard, and an experienced deep sea wreck explorer himself. Together, they set out to track and find perhaps the most legendary pirate wreck in history. Joseph Bannister was a British merchant captain who went renegade during the so-called Golden Age of Piracy in the colonial Caribbean. He managed to escape a death sentence in then-British Jamaica before finally being killed when his ship, The Golden Fleece, was finally found and bombarded by English frigates. Kurson’s engaging book blends history with the thrill of treasure hunting and tells the story of Chatterton and Mattera’s epic journey to finally find the wreck. In addition to Mother Nature, the crew had to work against government interference from the Dominican Republic, competitor dive groups, island drug runners, and malfunctioning equipment.

Dagmar – Circulation

houseinpragueThe House in Prague: How a Stolen House Helped an Immigrant Girl Find Her Way Home by Anna Nessy Perlberg, Nonfiction 940.53 Per

This is a delightful memoir of Anna Nessy Perlberg, a long-time Chicago resident and widow of the late poet Mark Perlberg. In her book, Anna remembers the cherished house and the family it sheltered; she also explores the true meaning of home. We meet Anna’s mother, the fabulous opera singer Julia Nessy, her prominent lawyer father Pavel Beacher, as well as a loving circle of extended family and friends. In part One, “The Early Years: 1930 – 1945,” we learn stories about the family holidays, special visitors, and country summers, but also about the confusion and fear, about the Nazi invasion of Prague, about the consequent family escape and their voyage to America. The family is starting a new life in New York and a 10-year-old homesick Anna is trying to find her way in the new country. She struggles to become an American in a city “teaming with immigrants and prejudice.”

In Part Two, “Remembrance and Return: 1945 – 2012,” post-war life brings stories of the family reunion when a few family members who survived the Holocaust were able to join them in the USA. There is also love and marriage. During her graduate work at Columbia, Anna meets a fellow student Mark Perlberg who falls in love with her passion for politics and her “foreignness.” Even the rough dark bread sandwiches that Anna brings from home are so different that his family’s soft white bread. Soon afterwards Mark and Anna marry, and she follows him, first to Tokyo and later, in 1956 to Chicago, where Mark is working for Time magazine, covering business and the arts. In Chicago, their two daughters are born and the Pelbergs lead a full family life, rich with friends, journalism, poetry, and politics. Mark helps to establish The Poetry Center of Chicago and serves at its first president. The story, however, ends where it began – in the house. Anna saw the house where she was born after nearly forty years. She went to see it again for the first time during the Communist regime and was not allowed into the house. After the Velvet Revolution, when things in Czechoslovakia changed so rapidly, Anna and her brothers decide to sue for the return of their family home. After a long legal battle, full of “restitution issues,” the house once again belonged to the Baecher family. But now what? Restoring and keeping the house in Prague would be very expensive; Mark gets sick, eventually passing in 2008. In 2012, Anna made the last return to Prague and to the house. Once again, it is necessary to say goodbye to the house. However, this house has given her the Czech roots, her spirit. It will always be a part of her, that house in Prague. Or so she says.

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October

October2016It’s October! Enjoy trick or treating, bonfires, falling leaves, apple cider, and all the other great things about fall and check out the recommended titles below.

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

weareallmadeofstarsWe Are All Made of Stars by Rowan Coleman, New Fiction Coleman

This is a beautiful book, sad in parts, but ultimately uplifting and inspiring. It tells the story of two women: Stella and Hope. Stella is a nurse working at a rehabilitation and hospice center. Since her husband, a solider, returned from duty with a serious injury, their marriage has been in crisis. Hope is a young woman with cystic fibrosis recovering from a life-threatening infection at the center. Knowing that her life expectancy is limited because of her disease, Hope has been afraid to live fully and is isolated and sheltered. Both of these women are at a crossroads in their lives and have to decide how to live going forward. Each character narrates her own chapters. Secondary characters are Grace, a dying patient of Stella’s with a secret, and Hugh, a man who has a connection to the center that is revealed as the story goes on. One aspect of the book that I found especially moving was the inclusion of letters written by Stella for patients who are nearing the end of their lives, interspersed throughout the book. They mainly either express regret over actions taken or not taken by the writers or ask their loved ones to go on living and be happy once they are gone. The letters are extremely touching and really get down to the gist of what makes our lives whole.

leavinglucy

Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon, New Fiction Solomon

In 1917, teenager Beatrice, the daughter of well-to-do Jewish parents in Massachusetts, becomes pregnant after an encounter with a naval officer introduced to her by her mother. Not wanting to leave the baby to an orphanage, Beatrice instead abandons the baby in her uncle’s pear orchard, where unknown persons steal their harvest each year. Beatrice watches as the pear thieves discover and take the baby. Ten years later, Beatrice’s grief over her loss has frozen her in time, wiped away her aspirations, and kept her in a state of depression. She flunked out of college, she stopped playing the piano, though a gifted pianist, and she chose to marry a homosexual man in a marriage of convenience. Now living with her Uncle Ira, whose health is declining, Beatrice hires Emma, the wife of a local fisherman and mother of nine children, to nurse Ira. Unbeknownst to Beatrice, Emma is the woman who took in Beatrice’s baby, now a ten-year-old called Lucy Pear. Meeting Emma is the beginning of taking away Beatrice’s inertia and freeing her to move forward, while Emma’s life also changes due to her meeting Lucy’s birth mother. This is an absorbing novel, filled with the honest emotions of strong characters who face difficult life choices and live with the consequences, and who find the strength to move on from past mistakes and make new lives for themselves.

turnTurn Washington’s Spies starring Jamie Bell, New DVD Turn, Seasons 1 and 2

This is a Revolutionary War drama inspired by the book Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring by Alexander Rose that details a spy ring that fed information about Redcoat troop movements to General Washington during the war. The main characters are four friends who grew up together in Long Island: Abraham, a cabbage farmer with a wife and young son, Ben, an officer in the Continental Army, Caleb, also in the Continental Army, serving under Ben, and Anna, Abraham’s former fiance, now married to another man and running a tavern in their hometown. The show begins slowly, setting up the characters and background information, and builds momentum as the series goes on.

Most of the main characters are based upon real people, but historical facts have been significantly changed for dramatic purposes, so don’t expect the show to be historically accurate, but it is exciting and entertaining. And it may prompt people to learn more about the historical people portrayed in the series. The show is filmed in Virginia. It is well-made with strong production values. Seasons 1-3 have aired on AMC and it has been announced that Season 4, to be aired in 2017, will be the final season.

Chris – Technical Services

beyondthecallBeyond the Call: The True Story of One World War II Pilot’s Covert Mission to Rescue POWs on the Eastern Front by Lee Trimble with Jeremy Dronfield, New Nonfiction 940.54 Tri

The story of Captain Robert Trimble (Lee’s father), a distinguished flyer in WWII who was sent on a mission to recover POWs in Poland near the end of WWII. Another story of heroism from all those years ago, that might not have been told. Fascinating and heartbreaking.

Michelle – Administration

savingSaving Hope starring Erica Durance, DVD Saving Hope, Seasons 1 and 2

Saving Hope is a Canadian TV drama that is part Grey’s Anatomy and part Ghost Whisperer. The show stars Michael Shanks as Dr. Charlie Harris, the chief of surgery who ends up in a coma after a car accident, Erica Durance as Dr. Alex Reid, Charlie’s fiancée and fellow surgeon, and Daniel Gillies as Dr. Joel Goran, Alex’s former boyfriend and Charlie’s replacement at the hospital. In the first season, Saving Hope follows the lives of these main doctors, as well as their co-workers and patients. Charlie, in his comatose state, is able to communicate with other patients who are also in a coma or have recently passed. Alex tries to juggle caring for Charlie and her patients, while also dealing with the reappearance of Joel in her life. It is a fun twist on the average medical drama that has kept me intrigued well into season three.

Hubbell – Circulation

zeitounZeitoun by Dave Eggers, Nonfiction 921 Zeitoun Egg

Zeitoun is a true account of one man’s experiences in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Zeitoun is Syrian immigrant Abdulrahman Zeitoun, who owned a painting business with his wife in New Orleans. After the flooding, Zeitoun canoed about the city, distributing any resources he had and rescuing survivors. In a twist of fate, Zeitoun was arrested by national guard officers and subsequently jailed without a trial or medical attention for close to 30 days. In the meantime, his property, where he had been taken into custody, was left unlocked and unsecured by the authorities and was subsequently looted and damaged. David Eggers’ account of Zeitoun’s awful experience puts 9/11 anti-Islam sentiment against the backdrop of the worst natural disaster in American history.

Chris – Circulation

community

Community, The Complete First Season starring Joel McHale and Chevy Chase, DVD Community, Season 1

Welcome to Greendale Community College where you’re already accepted! Make some new friends in Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), the recently unemployed lawyer; Annie Edison (Alison Brie), the studious recent high school grad who has a knack for perfection; Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi), your source for anything related to pop culture; Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs), the bumbling activist; Troy Barnes (Donald Glover), the former high school football star that got injured; Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown), the religious optimist that you don’t want to mess with; and Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase), the inheritor of Hawthorne Industries. Your Spanish teacher, Ben Chang (Ken Jeong), is only slightly ahead of the class in his lessons. Ian Duncan (John Oliver) will be your apathetic psychology professor. Finally, Craig Pelton (Jim Rash) is your dance, costume, and event-loving dean.

Throughout the first season of this highly-acclaimed but ultimately unfortunate sitcom, you will celebrate all of the holidays and zany school promotional events in a way that only Greendale can. The script is smartly written, packed with subtle, and not so subtle, jokes. It helps to be up on pop culture to understand some of the more subtle ones, but isn’t necessary to have a good time watching the show. Community is described as being very “meta,” meaning it knows it is a TV show, but goes along with it and the tropes anyway. Loaded with gags as well as Easter eggs, this show is worth a second viewing to catch even more. Season 1 gets better with every episode, exploring relationships and real-life crises mixed in with the humor. Community has a lot of heart, so maybe it will capture yours.

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September

September2016coverIt’s September! Welcome cooler weather with the change of season and check out the recommended titles below.

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

lilacgirlsLilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, New Fiction Kelly

This book is set from 1939-1959 and alternates among three characters, each of whom narrates her own chapters: Caroline, a New York socialite working for the French embassy, Kasia, a Polish teen, and Herta, a Nazi doctor. Kasia and Herta’s stories intersect when Kasia is caught working for the Polish underground and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp, along with her sister and mother, where she becomes a victim of gruesome medical experiments. It is not until after the war that Caroline’s part in the story becomes clear. The book is harrowing, showing the atrocities committed by the Nazis, but also inspiring, celebrating the strength and will of the victims.

Having each character tell her story in her own voice makes it more powerful. I felt so sad for Kasia that she struggled to make a life for herself after the war due to the psychological scars she carried and it was chilling and disgusting to see Herta’s hatred for Jews and her justification for the horrors she committed. The book was thoroughly researched by the author and is historically accurate, though the characters’ stories are fictionalized. Caroline and Herta were real people and Kasia and her sister Zuzanna are based upon real victims of the Ravensbrück medical experiments.

jonathanunleashedJonathan Unleashed by Meg Rosoff, New Fiction Rosoff

Jonathan is in his early twenties and just out of college. He moves to New York City to start his adult life. He is quirky and thinks outside the box. His passion is drawing comics, but he ends up at a soul-sucking job as a copywriter working for a client that sells office supplies. He has a girlfriend who is totally wrong for him – it is obvious to everyone in his life that she is not his match, but still he gets engaged to her on the spur of the moment when the bridal magazine she works for offers to pay for the ceremony, in exchange for live streaming it and doing a magazine spread. Even while engaged, Jonathan meets a few other people who interest him romantically, yet he clings to the idea of marriage to this woman. Jonathan’s life changes when his brother leaves his two dogs with him when he goes overseas for a work assignment. Jonathan develops a strong bond with the dogs – Sissy, a sweet cocker spaniel, and Dante, a very intelligent, work-driven border collie. Jonathan worries that the dogs are unsatisfied with life in a big city and he visits a vet, who suspects that he is projecting his unhappiness onto the dogs, who are dogs after all and take things as they come. Jonathan is a likable guy, but somewhat exasperating as he is stuck and miserable but afraid to make any changes in his life. The reader sees long before he does that he is making the wrong choices. The dogs sense it too and help Jonathan to find wisdom about the best way to live his life, nudging him in the right direction. The dogs’ antics are funny and clever, leading Jonathan down the path to a more rewarding life. The book is very funny and passionate dog lovers will savor it. A fun, light-hearted read.

shetlandShetland starring Douglas Henshall, DVD Shetland, Series 1 & 2

This is a detective series set in the Shetland Islands (part of the British Isles located in the far North and governed by Scotland) that follows Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez and his team as they investigate crimes committed on the islands. The first two seasons have been released as a set, which comprises four two-part episodes that are based on the novels by Ann Cleeves. I find this series to be very well done, with compelling crimes and interesting characters. Each story is allowed to evolve, being two hours in length, moving at a slower pace than most American detective shows, which allows more emphasis on character and setting. The crimes are not cut and dried, but complex with numerous suspects, keeping you guessing until the end. DI Perez is a likable character, a compassionate man who is good at questioning witnesses and suspects as he has a comforting presence. We learn that Perez is a widower with a teenage stepdaughter who grew up on the islands. The beautiful but bleak, rugged landscape sets a mood of isolation and gives you a sense of a close-knit community that feels the effects of crime much deeper than that of a well-populated urban area.

Chris – Circulation

yourinnerfishYour Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin, Nonfiction 611 Shu

Have you ever wondered how the human body has come to look and function the way it does today? Have you noticed similarities between humans and other groups of life? There is a good reason for this–humans are essentially more complex versions of creatures from these other groups. There are even more similarities than you think because many features cannot be seen on the surface. In paleontologist Neil Shubin’s first foray into popular science, he tackles the task of relating 3.5 billion years worth of evolution–of bacteria, prehistoric fish, flies, and many, many others–to the current human form. For example, fish, whales, and bats all have similar “hand” structures to humans. Flies have some of the same genes that function the same way in humans as well. Shubin is successful in his task because of his experience in the field, breadth of scientific evidence, and clear, easily accessible writing style. This is a fascinating read for anyone curious about evolution and the amazing path bodies have taken over 3.5 billion years. There is also a three-part PBS series based on this book.

Melissa – Technical Services

allisnotforgottenAll Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker, New Fiction Walker

In this tale, a teenage girl named Jenny is raped at a party. While being treated in the hospital, she is given a new and controversial drug that will erase the memory of her trauma. The treatment is not as effective as it is purported to be, and the ghosts of the incident seem to linger in Jenny’s subconscious. Her family begins to crumble in the aftermath, as her father regrets this course of action and will not rest until the man is brought to justice. The narrator is Jenny’s psychiatrist as he works to help her uncover the truth of that night. A fun and creative thriller, and the movie rights have recently been sold.

Chris – Technical Services

canalzheimersCan Alzheimer’s Be Stopped? written by Sarah Holt, New Nonfiction DVD 616.832 Can

Scientists reconstruct the molecular chain of events which leads to dementia.They explore the leading theories and you meet individuals struggling with Alzheimer’s and the clinical trials they are participating in as the researchers test their theories. A peak behind-the-scenes of what is happening in Alzheimer’s research. Recommended viewing for those who wish to learn more about the medical research currently going on.

isawthelightI Saw the Light starring Tom Hiddleston, New DVD I Saw

Tom Hiddleston stars as Hank Williams, the country western singer who rose to fame quickly and burned out fast. During his short lifetime, he wrote many timeless and heart-wrenching songs still covered by musicians today. Tom does a terrific job portraying the charismatic performer with a troubled soul and interpreting his songs.

headincloudsHead in the Cloud: Why Knowing Things Still Matters When Facts Are So Easy to Look Up by William Poundstone, New Nonfiction 306.42 Pou

If a few keystrokes can summon information in seconds, why should we bother learning facts? The author examines what Americans know and don’t know on a range of topics. He shows that many areas of knowledge correlate with the quality of our lives – wealth, health, and happiness – and even with politics and behavior.

Being well informed is about context as much as it is about factoids. It is the overview that permits the assessment of the particular that offers all-important insight into what we don’t know. Exposure to facts is good, but so is interacting with others of differing viewpoints. Discussion and debate hone opinions more effectively than reading facts.

walkingpointWalking Point: From the Ashes of the Vietnam War by Perry A. Ulander, New Nonfiction 921 Ulander

Memories of the war you may not want to hear about from a soldier who was there. 236 pages, very fast reading.

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July

July2016coverIt’s July! Celebrate summer and the  July 4th holiday with your loved ones and enjoy the recommended titles below.

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

dogsofbabelThe Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst, Fiction Parkhurst

This engrossing novel deals with the journey of Paul after the death of his wife Lexy. Lexy fell out of the tree in their yard. The police ruled her death an accident, but Paul suspects it may have been suicide. As the novel progresses, we learn he has good reason to suspect suicide. As we visit Paul’s memories of their marriage, we see that Lexy had issues with anger and impulse control and could sink into deep depressions at times. The only witness to Lexy’s death was their dog, Lorelei, who belonged to Lexy before their marriage. Paul is a professor of linguistics and he comes up with the idea to teach Lexy to speak in order to find out what really happened that day. This idea alienates him from his co-workers, who think he has cracked. Some co-workers ridicule him, while others feel sorry for him and try to discourage him from this project. It is a ridiculous idea, of course – dogs do communicate with humans, but not by speaking English. But Paul is in a desperate state and this project keeps his mind occupied during those first several months of intense grief. His progress with Lorelei  moves slowly, however, prompting Paul to get involved with a dangerous and sick group of people who intentionally mutilate and kill dogs in a quest to get them to speak in human language, thus endangering Lorelei. Paul’s relationship with Lorelei is touching – these are the two beings who loved Lexy the most and they are both grieving her loss. And now Lorelei is all Paul has left of Lexy. In the end, Lorelei does help him to learn the truth of the events of that day, but not by talking. The novel treats the issues of mental illness and suicide with sensitivity. We see the tragedy of mental illness and the toll it takes on the loved ones of those affected by it. Paul’s desperate search for meaning after such a loss is heart-breakingly sad, but redemptive in the end. After all Paul has had to go through to get to the point of acceptance, he is able to find peace and move forward with his life.

everyonebraveEveryone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave, New Fiction Cleave

This novel begins the day England declares war against Germany and goes through the first few years of WWII, through the summer of 1942 after the Americans arrive in England. The main characters are Mary, Alistair, and Tom, three young people living in London when war is declared. Mary is only 18 and grabs at the chance to volunteer to get her out of finishing school. She is the daughter of a well-to-do family and is very naive as the book opens. She is envisioning being a spy and thinks it must be a joke when they send her to teach at a school. Much to her surprise, she finds that she enjoys teaching and becomes attached to the students she is assigned to teach once the majority of London’s children have been evacuated. Those left are the crippled, mentally handicapped, and a black boy from America named Zachary, with whom Mary develops a strong bond. When Mary is assigned to teach, she meets Tom, a school administrator who has not signed up because he believes passionately in teaching and feels he can serve best by staying behind. Tom’s roommate, Alistair, signs up the day war is declared. First he is sent to France, then Malta. As the war goes on, we see how each character changes as a result of their war experiences. Mary and Tom are caught in the Blitz where the horror of the war is brought home daily, while Alistair sees his men die brutally in battle and then faces starvation due to the Axis blockade of Malta. Mary is the central character and she undergoes quite a transformation, from spoiled, naive rich girl to a much deeper and caring person. We see class and racial prejudice in action and also understand how this began to change after the war. The novel has emotional depth to it and each character is well-drawn and believable.

allwintersafterAll the Winters After by Seré Prince Halverson, New Fiction Halverson

This is a beautiful story about family, love, healing from loss, and taking chances to make a better life for yourself. Twenty years after his parents and brother were killed in a plane crash in their home state of Alaska, Kache returns home for the first time since the crash to visit his ailing grandmother. He has never properly grieved the loss of his family or faced his guilt over their deaths, so his life has been meaningless the last 20 years – not really living, but just sleepwalking through each day. He believes that their home and land has been rented out these 20 years, but his Aunt Eleanor tearfully admits to him that she never had the courage to go back to the homestead, suffering her own guilt over the crash. Kache expects the house to be beyond repair after so many years, but he discovers a young Russian woman named Nadia living in the house. She has been there for the last 10 years, hiding away from her own past tragedy.

All these characters are stuck in time, not able to move forward from tragedy. When Kache and Nadia find each other, they help one another to face the past and be able to live fully again, while Eleanor also blossoms into herself and finds happiness. The story is absorbing and the Alaskan wilderness itself is a character in the book, its magnificent beauty as well as danger an integral part of the lives of the characters.

Dagmar – Circulation

Summer can be a season in which food is greatly celebrated and enjoyed. We associate summers with family get-togethers, with grilling and barbecue garden parties, festive picnics, etc. Food and fun is the theme of the season and that is why I decided to write about food for the month of July. I believe that many readers are familiar with the name Ruth Reichl, a famous chef food and restaurant critic and a gifted food writer. Her books make a perfect summer reading for both their engaging, very personal writing style, and, of course, for her delicious recipes. “Reading Ruth Reichl on food is almost as good as eating it,” wrote the Washington Post Book World. “While all good food writers are humorous…few are so riotously effortlessly entertaining as Ruth Reichl,” commented the New York Times Book Review.

tenderattheboneHer first book, Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table, is a delicious memoir of her apprentice years. Her photo on the cover dated 1955 indeed proves that Reichl was cooking at a very young age – seven years old. Early on, she had discovered that “food could be a way of making sense of the world.” From there, we follow her culinary experience all the way to the organic food revolution in Berkeley, California, in the 1970’s.

 

comfortmewithapplesComfort Me with Apples: More Adventures at the Table is the sequel to it and picks up where the first one left off – living in a commune in California with her first husband, Doug. But things are changing fast and Ruth is about to become a restaurant critic and soon she cooks and dines with some word-famous chefs. She becomes one of the best food critics and her pursuit of good food to write about takes her to exotic places all over the world. She shares her experiences, both personal and professional, along with the delicious recipes, with her readers. Even when she writes about some of her personal difficulties, throughout it all, she is funny and entertaining. Just like in her first book, she is able to combine her humorous food writing and her memoirs into an art form.

garlicandsapphireGarlic and Sapphires: The Secrets Life of a Critic in Disguise is the third of Reichl’s memoirs. This time, she is at the top of her stellar career as a restaurant critic at the New York Times, the food editor and restaurant critic at the Los Angeles Times, and editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine. She is the most important and feared restaurant critic in the country, and her image with her signature black hair is known to every restaurant it town. She is offered special bonuses and cash bonuses for advance notices of her visits and gets royals treatment whether she likes it or not. However, Reichl is aware that in order to be a good and impartial food critic, you have to be anonymous. And voila, an idea of a critic in disguise is born and Reichl begins her “adventure in deception.” She gets a blonde wig and an acting coach and scouts restaurants as Molly Hollis, a retired school teacher from Michigan (in addition being Ruth Reichl) and then she writes reviews with a comparison about her double experiences. Soon the restaurateur’s learn to watch for Molly, so Reichl buys another wig and another persona is designed. She goes on creating several characters and enjoys switching between them. In her undercover roles, she is not only having fun, but also pokes holes in the pretension of food critics, and reveals both the artifice and excellence existing in the Epicurean world. She also reflects about how our appearance influences the ways we act and are perceived in this world. And, of course, she includes her favorite recipes and review.

Chris – Circulation

absolutionAbsolution by Muse, CD 781.66 Muse

Muse is one of the biggest acts right now in modern alternative rock. This trio has produced seven full-length albums, Absolution being the third. Formed in the U.K., this is the piece that broke them into the U.S. alternative scene. Muse expertly blend alternative rock with progressive, punk, electronic, and orchestral elements. Common themes on Muse albums tend to be love, loss, longing, space, and government conspiracies, and Absolution is no exception. Ranging from mellow piano and soft string arrangements to brash, distortion-heavy guitar works, Absolution excels in variety while still maintaining a cohesiveness with its signature Muse style. Singer Matt Bellamy’s distinctive falsetto brings an extra level of emotion to the songs it is featured in, like “Sing for Absolution,” “Stockholm Syndrome,” and “Ruled by Secrecy.” Matt shows off his piano chops in “Butterflies and Hurricanes,” bassist Chris Wolstenholme proves his bass mastery on “Hysteria,” and drummer Dom Howard perfectly matches the tempo and emotion of every track. This is my personal favorite album, and the one I would suggest to someone looking to check out Muse.

Michelle – Administration

13hours13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi starring John Krasinski, New DVD 13 Hours

This is the true story of the six ex-military operators working as security for the CIA in Benghazi during the terrorist attack in 2012. I was blown away by the story and the heroism shown by these six men who went so far beyond to protect both the CIA operatives and the U.S. diplomatic compound. The politics behind and around the attack do not play a part in this movie. Knowing that this is a true account of events made some scenes difficult to watch, but gave the entire movie such gravitas. Star John Krasinski brought such emotion and depth to his role. The movie, directed by Michael Bay, also stars James Badge Dale, Max Martini, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, and Dominic Fumusa.

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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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May

May2016It’s May! Take a book outside and enjoy the glorious sights and smells of spring!

 

 

Sue – Circulation

truthaccordingtousThe Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows, Fiction Barrows

This captivating novel is narrated by 12-year-old Willa Romeyn and set during the summer of 1938 in a small West Virginia town when she learns the truth about her family and their past. Willa lives with her father Felix, her aunt Jottie, and her little sister Bird. Felix is a selfish man whose actions in the past and today have hurt his family, but Willa adores him and women can’t refuse his charm. Jottie is the rock of the family, keeping everything together and raising the girls. It is the Depression and the Romeyns have taken in a boarder working for the Federal Writers’ Project under the WPA, set up by the Roosevelt Administration to provide work during the Depression. The boarder, Layla, is a spoiled and sheltered senator’s daughter who has been cut off by her father and forced to work after refusing to marry the man he picked out for her. Layla’s arrival sets in motion a series of events that will rock the Romeyn family, revealing a long-kept secret from the past. Layla’s assignment is to write the history of the town. As she interviews residents, she hears various versions of the same events, and chooses to write a more colorful history than the staid town leaders are ready for. As the town’s history is revealed, so is the history of the Romeyn family revealed. We learn how subjective the truth can be, depending upon who is telling it. The pace of the book starts out slow, like the sweltering summer heat of West Virginia, but then picks up and becomes really engrossing as we learn more about the dark family secret that has torn apart the lives of Jottie and Felix. This book shines – the characters are so well-developed and we see Willa grow up before our eyes as she discovers some hard truths about her family.

fallenlandFallen Land by Taylor Brown, New Fiction Brown

Fallen Land is a powerful story of love and survival set in the American South during the Civil War. Fifteen-year-old Callum, an orphan originally from Ireland, falls in with a band of Confederate guerrillas in Virginia in the later years of the war. The men are brutal, and after trying to help a young woman named Ava they found living on her own from being assaulted by the men, Callum leaves the group and returns to the girl. But the leader of the group, a former colonel in the Confederacy, is killed by Union soldiers when confronting Callum, who stole the Colonel’s magnificent horse, Reiver, in his flight. Believing Callum to be the Colonel’s killer, the rest of the Colonel’s men and a vicious bounty hunter set off in search of Callum and Ava in order to collect a bounty on the head of the Colonel’s killer. Callum wants to reach the coast of Georgia, where distant relatives live, in the hope that they will take Ava and him in. As they travel, they are relentlessly pursued by the bounty hunter. Their path follows the wake of General Sherman’s march through Georgia and we see the utter destruction wrought by Union troops. The book helped me realize the full horror of Sherman’s march. I was appalled by the murder of family pets – so pointless, just cruelty – and the sheer brutality of the destruction of property and livestock. The writing is beautiful. Taylor uses descriptive language to great effect, describing the destruction of the land, but the beauty that is still there to be found. Callum and Ava are well-drawn characters. Callum fears what the war is making him while Ava is strong and sensible. Along their journey, the pair also meet a number of memorable characters. The novel is well-paced, the story line flowing smoothly and keeping the reader absorbed until the end.

summerbeforewarThe Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson, New Fiction Simonson

This beautifully written novel opens in the summer of 1914 in the small village of Rye, East Sussex, shortly after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. The residents of the village are blissfully unaware of the major changes that are coming to their world and their way of life. The main characters are Beatrice, a young woman who has settled in the village to take on the job of Latin mistress for the local school (with some opposition due to her gender) and the Kent family: Agatha, her husband John, who is high up in the government and has more of an inkling of what is coming than most, and their two nephews, Hugh, a surgeon in training, very serious and respectable, and Daniel, a handsome and charming poet, who flaunts the rules of society. Society and respectability are everything in Rye and the local women can be vicious against those who don’t measure up to their standards of respectability. Beatrice is on the cusp of this society, being a woman who doesn’t intend to marry and wants to live a life of meaningful work (and rides a bicycle!), but with Agatha’s support, she fits in. Though Rye is respectable on the surface, there is much simmering under the surface, including a homosexual love affair, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and bigotry against local gypsies. We see how women were limited in their choices in that period of time and how easily they could be ostracized from society for actions that are commonplace today.

The novel is slow-paced and gentle, until the end, when the setting shifts from Rye to France, juxtaposing the charming pastoral life of Rye with the horrific violence of the front. Though a long book told at a slow pace, I truly cared about the characters and was invested in their fate. We see the horror and stupidity of war and the suffering of innocents caught up in it and the waste of promising lives, but also how suffering and loss can make people reach for what they truly want and find happiness.

onlyloveOnly Love Can Break Your Heart by Ed Tarkington, New Fiction Tarkington

This is a wonderful novel about the relationship between two brothers and their family growing up in the 1970’s and 80’s in a small town in Virginia. The novel is narrated by Richard, nicknamed Rocky by his brother, as an older adult looking back on his life. Richard is seven years old when the novel opens and idolizes his older half-brother Paul, a teenager with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, a cool car, and a taste for rock n’ roll, especially Neil Young. Richard speaks with such an authentic voice you feel as if a friend is telling you a story while sitting on the patio drinking a beer. The book is funny, sad, nostalgic, tender – a lovely story of a family’s ups and downs over Richard’s childhood into his young adulthood. As he comes of age, he experiences abandonment, reconciliation, and first love, as well as darker moments. The characters are richly drawn and all flawed in their own way. We meet Richard’s father, called the Old Man, his mother, the Old Man’s second wife, much younger than him, Paul’s high school girlfriend Leigh, and other residents of the community, all of whom play a part in Richard’s growing up and his education about life. The book defies genre, as it is part Southern Gothic, part domestic fiction, and part mystery. It is very entertaining and well-written and, as the title says, it is ultimately about love between family members and how love can overcome life’s obstacles.

Theresa – Youth Services

ourendlessdaysOur Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller, Fiction Fuller

In 1985, eight-year-old Peggy Hillcoat is taken from her London home by her survivalist father. After bringing her to a ramshackle hut in the wilderness, he tells her that the rest of the world, including her mother, has been destroyed. Nine long years pass with harsh winters and times of near starvation. Peggy eventually sees another person and realizes that her father is wrong.

It isn’t until Peggy returns to civilization and her mother that the author reveals how the human mind can play tricks on us. Under such circumstances, sanity may be lost, causing one to do unthinkable things.

The author, Claire Fuller, takes the reader back and forth in time. At points it may seem like the dreariness will never end, but the conclusion had me wanting to reread the book!

Hubbell – Circulation

14931493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles Mann, Nonfiction 909.4 Man

Writer Charles Mann’s 1493 is an engrossing account of world history in the post-Columbian era. The meeting of Europe and the Americas, as well as with the East, irrevocably altered the course of the natural world. Mann explains how global temperature increases were caused by the reforestation of North America following population decline from European illnesses. Or how the discovery of silver in South America opened up the Pacific and catapulted China’s economy. It is a fascinating and well-written book.

greatwarofourtimeThe Great War of Our Time: The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism – From Al Qa’ida to ISIS by Michael J. Morell, Nonfiction 363.325 Mor

Written by former CIA deputy director Michael Morell, The Great War of Our Time is an insightful, first-hand account of America’s counter-terrorism world before and after 9/11. Morell was President Bush’s daily intelligence briefer and his 9/11 day-of account is emotional. What the book is really about, though, is Morell’s explanation of some CIA failures and also successes and that threats abroad continue.

Michelle – Administration

creedCreed starring Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan, New DVD Creed

I have been a huge Rocky fan since I was a kid; a true child of the 80’s, Rocky IV is my favorite. I had not been thrilled with any sequels after that, so I went into this newest addition to the Rocky franchise with excitement and trepidation. I was more than pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed Creed. The story line is great and more heart-wrenching than I was expecting. Sylvester Stallone gave his best performance in years and Michael B. Jordan held his own as Adonis Creed. I think this movie is great for both us Rocky fans and the younger generation who may not be familiar with the franchise.

Dagmar – Circulation

irrationalmanIrrational Man starring Joaquin Phoenix, New DVD Irrational

In Woody Allen’s latest film, Irrational Man, Joaquin Phoenix beautifully plays a classic Allen figure: a renowned but disillusioned philosophical professor who takes a new job at fictional Bryalin College on the East Coast. When he arrives, he is preceded by the tales of his brilliant teaching, near-legendary passionate affairs, and global crusades. He is a mysterious man who is plagued by a bleak depression and doubts about his place in the world. Unknowingly, he creates a lot of commotion in the small provincial university town, starving for something new and exciting. He draws the not so subtle advances of Rita (Parker Posey), a lonely science professor looking to escape from a dreary marriage, and soon surrenders to Rita’s insistent seduction tactics. At the same time, he also enchants one of his brightest students, and daughter of his academic colleague, Jill (Emma Stone). While Jill has a doting and uncomplicated college boyfriend, she finds this professor and his exotic past thrilling, exciting, and irresistible. The professor tries to keep his blossoming friendship with Jill strictly platonic, but eventually, she becomes much more than just a friend. However, not even the stimulation of new friendship and romance can quite get the professor out of his depression, nor ease his feelings of futility concerning his teaching and writing. The turning point for the tormented professor comes when Jill and he eavesdrop on a conversation in a diner, listening to an unhappy turn that a complete stranger’s life has taken. The professor makes a resolution, which in turn gives him a purpose and enjoyment of his life once again. His “meaningful act” becomes the talk of the town, the subject of dinner-party chatter, campus gossip, and speculation from students and faculty. The film culminates in a surprising end with a nearly Hitchcockian twist. This “suspenseful mind-teaser” (Rolling Stone) is definitely a worthy edition to the work of Woody Allen.

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January

January2016It’s January! Start the new year off with a good book!

 

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

stellabainStella Bain by Anita Shreve, Fiction Shreve

Set during World War I, this book tells the story of a woman who wakes up in a field hospital in France in 1916 with no memory of who she is or how she got there. She is wearing a nurse’s uniform, but speaks with an American accent, although the U.S. has not yet entered the war. She thinks her name is Stella Bain and recalls that she can drive an ambulance, so once her physical injuries heal, she is sent to work as a nurse’s aide and ambulance driver. Eventually she makes her way to London where she hopes to find a clue to her identity. She is taken in by a man named Dr. Bridges and his wife, who find her sick and weak outside their door. Dr. Bridges is a cranial surgeon, but he also has an interest in psychiatry, so he agrees to treat her to see if she can recover her memories. I don’t want to give away any more of the plot, but it was a fascinating read to find out who Stella really is and how she ended up in that hospital in France and what happened to her going forward once she got to London and met Dr. Bridges. The book really holds your attention as bits and pieces of Stella’s life are revealed.

thinwomanThe Thin Woman by Dorothy Cannell, Fiction Cannell

The first book in a mystery series about Ellie Simons. Ellie is an insecure, overweight interior designer whose family nags her about her weight and her status as a single woman. To impress her family, Ellie hires a date for a weekend family reunion at her uncle’s big estate, whom she then tells her family is her fiancee. The date, Ben, is attracted to Ellie, but doesn’t like how she is down on herself. Ellie thinks she has gotten away with her ruse until her uncle passes away. His will leaves his estate and all his money to both Ellie and Ben, but only if certain conditions are met by both over the next six months. If the conditions are not met, then the rest of the family, who were left nothing in the will, will divide the estate and money among themselves. Ellie and Ben move into the house and try to meet the will’s conditions. But then a series of vicious practical jokes occur and it becomes clear that a truly disturbed individual is behind the increasingly malicious pranks and trying to run off Ellie and Ben. This is a fun read with mystery, romance, adventure, and a twist at the end.

burnnoticeBurn Notice starring Jeffrey Donovan, DVD Burn Notice, Seasons 1-7

If you like car chases and explosions, this is the show for you! Nonstop action, plus endearing main characters, evil villains, and character development over the seasons too. The great Jeffrey Donovan stars, along with Gabrielle Anwar, the charming and funny Bruce Campbell, and Sharon Gless. Donovan plays Michael Westen, a CIA operative who gets “burned” – kicked out of the CIA with all his assets frozen. He was burned for crimes that he did not commit and the show focuses on his efforts to find the people who burned him and get back into the CIA. While pursuing this, he helps people in need who can’t get help from the usual sources, like the police. His cohorts are his ex-girlfriend Fiona, a former member of the IRA and current gun-runner and bounty hunter, and Sam, an ex-Navy SEAL now leading a relaxed life of lots of beer drinking and free-loading off his wealthy girlfriends. Forced by the CIA to stay in his hometown of Miami, Michael reconnects with his mother, whom he hasn’t seen in years after fleeing his abusive father. I love the characters – they all have great chemistry with each other and the show has a lot of humor and heart in it in addition to the action. The show aired for seven seasons and ended its run in 2013.

Dagmar – Circulation

gratitudediariesThe Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life by Janice Kaplan, New Nonfiction 179.9 Kap

This is a perfect New Year’s resolution book – a definite must-read for those who would like to make a difference in their lives in the year(s) to come. It all starts on New Year’s Eve when journalist Janice Kaplan makes a resolution to look on the bright side of life and makes a promise to be grateful for whatever happens. It is partially an inspiring memoir in which the author shares some amusing personal experiences, but it is also brilliantly researched and backed with scientific research. Kaplan interviewed many scientists extensively – psychologists, academics, doctors, philosophers, and had meaningful conversations with her colleagues and friends to bring you along on the journey of appreciating what you have. Relying on the mass of evidence, she learned for herself and explains in the book how gratitude can transform every aspect of your everyday life, from marriage and friendship to health and fitness. With insightful writing and gentle humor, she will take you on a journey to start thinking positively and start living your best year ever. She explores her subjects in four parts, according to seasons. Winter is a season for marriage and family, spring is a season for money and career, summer is for gratitude and health (including Chapter 11 about losing weight on the amazing gratitude diet!), and finally, fall for coping, caring, and connection. At the end of the year, she realized that big changes can happen when the calendar flips – but only if you make them happen. By paying attention, thinking positively, and reframing experiences, she put herself in a different place that year and became the happier person she wanted to be. And so can you, if you embrace the message of this book and take it to your heart.

giveitupGive It Up! My Year of Learning to Live Better with Less by Mary Carlomagno, Nonfiction 179.9 Car

This is another perfectly motivating book for a New Year’s resolution. The book chronicles the author’s life-changing experience and provides inspiration for anyone looking for a fresh start and a new outlook. It is about simplifying your life and celebrating what is truly important.

Mary Carlomagno was like many of us – a busy professional, accustomed to a frantic pace, stressed, constantly checking her messages, and shopping like there was no tomorrow. Her resolution came on January 1, when she woke up with a pounding headache and uttered those famous last words, “I am never drinking again.” And she meant it. At least for the month of January. Raised as a Catholic, she was accustomed to observe Lent by sacrificing something that was dear to her to honor her faith. Sacrifices made during Lent can be life-changing. So Mary recalled the experience of Lent and began to wonder if she could give up things that seemed so essential to her, like designer shoes and handbags, expensive coffee, and her ever-present cell phone. So for each month of the year, she picked a favorite thing and gave it up cold turkey. In February, she gave up shopping, in March elevators, in April newspapers, in May cell phones, which created huge confusion and nearly caused her boyfriend to reconsider their recent engagement. In June, she gave up eating out. Considering the high cost and super-sized portions that made her gain weight, Mary went back to the basics of home-cooked meals, where moderation was her mantra. This was beneficial to both her wallet and her waistline. She was not going to sever her relationship with finer cuisine, but wanted to break the food-on-the-go addiction, and in the process, she regained her interest and appreciation for a freshly-made home meal. In July, she went without television. While this may not seem like a revolutionary idea, the abstinence brought attention to the addiction of a daily habit; it allowed her to get a new life – nightly walks after dinner, followed by some quality reading. In August, she banned taxis, her main mode of transportation. Luckily, New York City is the most walking friendly city in the USA. In September, she gave up coffee and her obsession with Starbucks. This was hard, because, as she put it, coffee is the last politically correct vice accepted, even encouraged, in the workplace, where some rituals change, but the coffee break is eternal. October was for cursing, November for chocolate, which, according to her, was the cruelest of the months. December was for multi-tasking, which was designed to live in the moment. Her goal for the month was to enjoy the holiday season with a limited amount of stress. With the goal of the month achieved, she could raise a champagne glass, noting the passing of another year. That year had inspired her career change as well. She founded a company, Order, that specializes in clutter control, apartment and office space solutions, and life transitions.

Mary – Youth Services

hungermakesmeHunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein, New Nonfiction 921 Brownstein

Many of us have an idea of what it is like to be in a rock band. Carrie Brownstein tells it like it is. After all, she played a defining role in establishing the Northwest feminist punk scene, where she remains a lead singer and guitarist in the band Sleater-Kinney. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is a life told through music. It exposes the rock scene’s sexist inner workings, and most notably, the not-so-glamorous touring life of a rockstar. (Which includes—according to Brownstein—after-parties that are best skipped for time alone in your hotel room). The most unique part of Brownstein’s memoir, however, comes in the way she explores emotional “growing pains,” and how the tragedies of our early lives can seep into us, or transform us as we grow. Whether you have an interest in Pacific Northwest feminist punk, or you just read that and are thinking “What on earth is that?” Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is unequivocally one of the best memoirs of the year. Carrie Brownstein has presented parts of her personal life that she usually guards with utmost privacy, and what she exposes is an incredibly human portrait of what it means to grow and change in our modern world.

orlandoOrlando by Virginia Woolf, Fiction Woolf

Woof’s fiction is incredibly multi-textured, dense, and layered. One could spend a lifetime drawing something new out of her works, each time one is read. Orlando is no exception. Written as a literary love letter to Vita-Sackville West, the novel charts three hundred years, and it begins with exploring the life of an Elizabethan nobleman, named Orlando. Effortlessly, Woolf makes the years go by, until one day Orlando wakes up in the nineteenth century, and he wakes up as a woman. Now Orlando—Orlando, the woman—must come to terms with her loss of freedoms as now she lives in the early 1900’s, falls in and out of love, and struggles with accepting domesticity. Orlando is a mythical, unforgettable portrait of one human life, and will astound the modern reader that it was published in 1928. The diversity of human life is thrumming with wildness, and the character of Orlando is a testament to this unapologetic truth.

iworkatapubliclibraryI Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks collected by Gina Sheridan, Nonfiction 027.02 She

One comment I always get from people who know I work at a library is: “Oh, that must be such a nice, quiet job.” And it is. Well, the “nice” part is true, at least. As for “quiet,” we rarely have dull moments. If you are curious what it is like to be a public librarian, you will find no greater insight than I Work at a Public Library. Gina Sheridan has collected stories from real-life public librarians, and contained therein is the true range of horrors and rewards librarians reap on the daily. If you were ever staring at us behind our desks, wondering what it is like to be us, take a look at this book. Perhaps that fantasy of quitting your job and becoming a librarian wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If you want to be a librarian after reading this book: Welcome to the force. You are truly one of us.

Hubbell – Circulation

wrightbrothersThe Wright Brothers by David McCullough, Nonfiction 920 Mcc or New CD 920 Mcc (audiobook)

Renowned author and historian David McCullough has written the definitive biography of the Wright brothers. Meticulously researched and organized, McCullough’s biography tells the story of the brothers’ entire lives. The work includes eye-opening details you may have never known about the brothers, their family, and their invention. McCullough reveals the early history of the Wrights and their upbringing, which uniquely qualified the bicycle shop owners for aviation experimentation. Further, McCullough details the brothers’ discovery and mastery of flight and also how they went about commercializing their invention.

81days81 Days Below Zero by Brian Murphy, New CD 940.54 Mur (audiobook)

This is the true telling of the story of Leon Crane, a WWII pilot who crashed into the Alaskan wilderness during a flight test. The rest of the crew were never seen again. Crane, through a combination of tenacity, luck, survival awareness, and the environment, endeavors to find any sign of life for rescue. His story is remarkable and Brian Murphy brings it to life with the inclusion of modern investigators who have searched for answers to the crash.

thomasjeffersonandpiratesThomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger, New Nonfiction 973.47 Kil or New CD 973.47 Kil (audiobook)

America’s first war was not the War of 1812. It was against the Barbary nations of northern Africa. Under direction of the Ottoman Empire, these nations of Morocco, Tunis, Algiers, and Tripoli harassed American vessels, took American prisoners, and plundered American ships in the Mediterranean. While other European powers agreed to pay ransoms for clear passage, President Thomas Jefferson refused. Written by Brian Kilmeade (George Washington’s Secret Six), this book reveals America’s first conflict, the crucial development of its fledgling navy, and its rise to respect on the world’s political stage.

Chris – Technical Services

immortalsantaThe Immortal Nicholas by Glenn Beck, New Fiction Beck

“Before he was father Christmas…he was simply a father.” An epic tale full of drama, history, legend, and heart that gives the legend of Santa a long-overdue Christ-centered mission.

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November

It’snovember2015coverphoto November. Let us all be thankful for our loved ones and enjoy the holiday season with the recommended titles below.

 

Dagmar – Circulation

voraciousVoracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books by Cara Nicoletti, New Nonfiction 028.9 Nic

Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books is a delicious culinary journey with things that many of us love the most in life: books and food. The author, Cara Nicoletti, is a butcher, a former pastry chef, and author of the literary recipe blog Yummy Books. Her journey started in her junior year in college, when she, originally from Boston, was fed up, lonely, and exhausted in New York, and ready to leave the city. Her college friend Emily changed everything: convinced her to stay in New York, and years later to create a blog, which led to this book. Four years ago, the author, along with her friend Emily and her husband Ante, started a book club. Every time they finished a book, they would go to Cara’s apartment where they would  discuss a book and Cara would make them a meal from the book so they could eat while discussing. These book club dinners would eventually turn into a literary supper club, which then turned into Yummy Books, which was the starting point of this book. This is a very interesting new take on discussing books – book club readers take notice – the author may be onto something here and it may be just a recipe for success of reading and dining with friends.

cloudsofsilsmariaClouds of Sils Maria starring Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart, New DVD Clouds

Many of us have followed Juliette Binoche and her films during her prolific career. From her first major international hit nearly 30 years ago, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” we saw her in films such as “The English Patient,” for which she won an Academy Award, and “Chocolat” with Johnny Depp, through which she won the hearts of many. Last month, the blog reviewed her recent film “Certified Copy.” This month, her fans will be delighted to see her latest film, Clouds of Sils Maria. In this film, she delivers another career-defining performance. Along with Kristen Stewart, she creates a seductive and mesmerizing masterpiece. Binoche plays renowned actress Maria Enders, who is cast opposite a young Hollywood starlet with a flair for scandal. Aging Binoche must face and come to terms with what it means to be an actress in a youth-obsessed industry. She prepares for the most challenging role of her life with her assistant (Stewart). During the process, tension rises and there may be a hint of another underlying problem for both of them. For her acclaimed performance, Stewart became the first American to win the coveted Cesar Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Sue – Circulation

skyeLetters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole, Fiction Brockmole

This is an engaging love story told completely in letters that spans more than two decades, from the first world war to the second. It opens in 1912 with a fan letter from David in Illinois to Elspeth, a published poet, in the Isle of Skye in Scotland. As Elspeth and David correspond via letter, they slowly fall in love. However, Elspeth is a married woman. When the war begins, David volunteers to be an ambulance driver and goes off to France. The book then jumps forward in time to 1940 and we follow the letters of Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, to her love who is serving in the war. Something happened back in the first world war that tore Elspeth’s family apart, but Margaret knows nothing of her mother’s past or her own father. As Margaret investigates her family’s past, we learn more about the events of 20 years ago and the story comes full circle. Though it is set in wartime, the book focuses more on romance and less on war. The characters and their emotions felt real to me and the story was absorbing and satisfying without being too predictable.

ettaandottoEtta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper, Fiction Hooper

This book tells the life stories of Etta and Otto, a married couple now in their 80s who live on a farm in rural Saskatchewan. The story opens with Etta leaving on a journey all the way across Canada to the sea in Halifax. She intends to walk this great distance by herself. It is something she feels she needs to do, connected to an event in her childhood. Otto understands and lets her go. Otto’s best friend and neighbor, Russell, at one time in love with Etta himself, is not so understanding and sets off after Etta. The book goes back and forth in time, telling each character’s story from their childhood to Otto’s service in the war as a young man and his return to the present day. While Etta walks, she picks up an animal companion she names James, giving us the four characters of the title.

The book has a dream-like quality to it – you are not sure if some of the events really happened or if it was just in the character’s mind. The various events that affect the characters’ lives and how their lives play out over the years makes for compelling reading. The book is beautifully written – a moving story of friendship and loyalty, lives not without hardship, but with family and friends always there when needed to share the joy and the burdens.

hinterlandHinterland starring Richard Harrington and Mali Harries, DVD Hinterland, Series 1

This is a detective drama that follows DCI Tom Mathias and his team as they investigate crimes in a remote coastal area of Wales. Mathias is a brooding, serious man with an unhappy past that has sent him from London to Wales for a fresh start. The show is gritty, dark, and intense with beautiful cinematography showing the barren Welsh landscape. The show is filmed in both Welsh and English, with the Welsh language version broadcast in Wales and the English version broadcast in England. The second season of the show is airing this fall in Wales and a third season has been ordered.

Chris – Technical Services

vintagechicagoDiscovering Vintage Chicago: A Guide to the City’s Timeless Shops, Bars, Delis & More by Amy Bizzarri, New Nonfiction 917.73 Biz

A must-read for Chicago history lovers. A guide to the many unique and historic places around the city; great for planning your own walking tour. Appendix’s by category, by neighborhood, and year of origin.

 

bidbadbillmurrayThe Big Bad Book of Bill Murray: A Critical Appreciation of the World’s Finest Actor by Robert Schnakenberg, Nonfiction 791.43 Sch

An A-to-Z compilation of everything Bill; quotes, filmography, photos, & “Tales from Murrayland.” If you love Bill’s work, you will like this. Not to be read from cover to cover, but to be enjoyed in bits and pieces.

Melissa – Technical Services

hautingofhillhouseThe Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, Fiction Jackson

For those unfamiliar with the plot of this classic, a group of people gather together in a house with a dark reputation with the goal of experiencing some of the paranormal events held in legend. Jackson does two impressive things with this book: the characters are so rich, which isn’t always the focus of a horror novel. Typically, in a horror novel, much of the emphasis goes towards the atmosphere. And yet, the atmosphere that Jackson creates is superb. The characters get on well with each other, enjoying each other’s company and witty exchanges. It’s only at night that the fear sets in. Thus, readers are removed from the tension of the horror, and laughing, only to be thrown back in again. This makes it all the more terrifying, because every instance of fear follows a period where the characters (and reader) were relaxed and calm. The horror/comedy coupling echoes the madness felt by the narrator, as she slowly loses her sanity as she stays in Hill House.

Pat – Circulation

jinxThe Jinx: The Life and Death of Robert Durst produced by Marc Smerling and Andrew JareckiNew DVD 364.15 Jinx

This is a six-hour documentary broken into six installments. They follow the life story of Robert Durst, a reclusive real estate icon, including his childhood, the murder of his first wife Kathleen, the murder of his close friend Susan Berman, and the murder and dismemberment of his neighbor Morris Black. Robert Durst is in jail today, pending trial, because of the Jinx. His entire story is so bizarre, yet true, each detail more incredible than the last.

Mary – Youth Services

whybehappyWhy Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson, Nonfiction 921 Winterson

Jeanette Winterson is a prominent, lyrical writer of many well-known books such as Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, The Passion, and Written on the Body. Her works often deal with the subversive spirit, or how one can survive in a society ready to strip one’s individual differences. Like her works, Winterson’s memoir is not the typical life story. Often blanketed by her vast knowledge of literature and history, Winterson reveals what her life was like growing up in northern England. The memoir’s focal point is the time Winterson lived as the adopted daughter of strictly-religious, Pentecostal parents. Never knowing when the four horsemen of the apocalypse and Jesus would take her, Winterson’s childhood story is sometimes darkly humorous, sometimes distressing in its portrait of what it is like to mold individual identity; what it means to be both a member of a biological and a created family. This work, among many other things, is a love letter to literature and survivors of childhood trauma. It also serves as a testament to resilience and individuality – a sigh of relief: Thank goodness I am not “normal!”

sleeperandspindleThe Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell, New YA Fiction Gaiman

I have eagerly been awaiting this book’s American release. The long wait is now over, and I can call off the small boat that would have smuggled me into England. The Sleeper and the Spindle is Neil Gaiman’s retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, with lavish, dark illustrations by Chris Riddell. I often find it is hard to breathe new life into certain tales, but Gaiman takes an angle on the beloved story that is interesting and thought-provoking. Combined with the stunning artwork by Chris Riddel, The Sleeper and the Spindle exists as both a beautiful art object and a fresh portrayal of a classic fairy tale.

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October

Oct2015coverphotoIt’s October! Enjoy the cooler weather with bonfires and cider and check out the recommended titles below.

 

 

Stephanie – Youth Services

codenameverityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, YA Fiction Wein (Abe 2015) or YA CD Wein (audiobook)

This 2015 Abraham Lincoln Award Winner is the riveting story of a British spy during World War II who has been caught by Germany. She is prepared to do anything she can to stay alive and avoid being killed by Kerosene. As a spy herself, she knows what Britain does to spies, so she knows what she is in for. This story is more than just staying alive. It is about freedom, triumph, and the story of who she is. Code Name Verity will leave you wondering what is to come and how she can escape her captors…or if.

Dagmar – Circulation

picnicinprovencePicnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard, New Nonfiction 921 Bard

This very delightful book is a sequel to Elizabeth Bard’s first book, Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes. In this equally delicious writing, we follow the New York-born journalist and expectant mother, now married to her French husband, to her new adventure: moving to Provence. Pregnant Elizabeth and her husband take a vacation in the French countryside before the baby arrives and they fall in love with it to the point of no return. They only return to Paris to sell their apartment and move to Provence to start their life anew. With elegance, wit, and humor, Elizabeth comments on her new family life in the French countryside, on her friends and in-laws, on visits of her American family, and on the cultural differences between her upbringing in New York and those of the Frenchmen. This book is not only a good read for the Francophiles among us, but also for those who enjoy pleasant reading full of humor, joy, and delicious recipes. A must read for those who either traveled to Provence, would like to travel there, or simply just enjoy reading about it. Comparable to similar writings by Peter Mayle (on the subject of a life in Provence) with a female twist.

certifiedcopyCertified Copy starring Juliette Binoche, DVD Certified Copy

Certified Copy is a marvelous, mind-blowing movie by the great Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. The story of a meeting between one man and one woman in a small Italian village in Southern Tuscany at first appears to be a simple one. The man is a British author who has just finished giving a lecture at a conference. The woman, from France, owns an art gallery. This is a common story that could happen to anyone, anywhere.

We see the star Juliette Binoche and the handsome co-star William Shimell (a famous British opera singer in his film debut) meet at the lecture. The second day, they take a trip to the Italian countryside. The atmosphere of the Italian countryside and the colors of the buildings, of the sky, and the Tuscany village paint a vivid picture and help to shape the emotional structure of the film. They first talk about his book and about art, about the philosophy of the copy and the original. Later their discussion turns to love, marriage, and commitment, until we figure out that they may be a long-married couple having a difficult reunion. Intriguing and sensual, this film with English, Italian, and French dialog (with English subtitles) is definitely worth seeing.

Sue – Circulation

mrssinclairMrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters, New Fiction Walters

This engaging novel tells the story of two women: Dorothea, now almost 110 years old and living in a nursing home, and her granddaughter, Roberta. Roberta works in a used bookstore and is fascinated by books. A favorite hobby of hers is collecting old letters, postcards, photos, etc. that she finds in used books. One day, her father brings her an old suitcase belonging to her grandmother. Roberta finds a letter from the 1940s in the suitcase written by her grandfather to her grandmother that casts doubt on her beliefs about her family heritage. Roberta starts looking into her grandmother’s past to unravel the mystery. The book then goes back into the past and tells us Dorothea’s story. We learn about her childhood, her marriage, and her life during World War II. Though the story is told in alternating chapters, telling Dorothea’s story in the past and Roberta’s story in the present, the book belongs to Dorothea. Her character is the compelling one. Hers is a bittersweet story, with a broken relationship with her mother, an unhappy marriage, heartbreaking miscarriages, which leave her bereft of her great dream of being a mother, and a thwarted love affair with a pilot during the war while her husband is away. The book is really a story about maternal love rather than the love between a man and a woman and how Dorothea makes a satisfying life for herself in spite of the hardships she faced.

placetocall homeA Place to Call Home starring Marta Dusseldorp, New DVD Place, Seasons 1 and 2

This is a compelling Australian drama series set in the early 1950s. It revolves around nurse Sarah Adams and the members of the Bligh family. Sarah has returned to Australia after 20 years of living in Europe. She takes a job at the local hospital after meeting George Bligh on the ship over and being recommended by him. George is a wealthy businessman whose family is ruled by the iron fist of his mother, Elizabeth. George is widowed with a son, James, newly married, and a daughter, Anna. Sarah suffered deprivation and loss during the war, but she fiercely guards her privacy, which causes local gossip. She and George are drawn to each other, but an incident on the ship has led to great animosity towards Sarah on the part of George’s mother. Plus George is a wealthy landowner and Sarah works for a living in a time when class and social standing still matter. And Sarah has converted to Judaism, while George is Anglican. Can Sarah and George develop a relationship under such circumstances? Meanwhile, James and Anna are dealing with issues of their own while Elizabeth connives to control all their lives. The show has strong characters faced with difficult life challenges. I found myself drawn into their lives and caring about them. The Australian scenery is beautiful and I love the period costumes, especially the dresses worn by the ladies, as well as the soundtrack with golden oldies from the 40s and 50s. Season 3 will air this fall in Australia and a season four has been ordered.

soldiersgroveThe Mysteries of Soldiers Grove by Paul Zimmer, New Fiction Zimmer

This is a tender story of two elderly people finding love with each other. Cyril, the only child of alcoholics, found escape from his unhappy life through reading. He found he especially enjoyed reading biographies and autobiographies and has a wide store of “lives” in his memory that he enjoys sharing with people, but most people find him odd and don’t get it when he tries to tell them about the lives he’s read about over the years. Solitary all his life, he’s never had a relationship with a woman and is shy and awkward, but kind-hearted. Louise is an elegant and cultured lady, originally from France. Now a widow, she fell in love with an American soldier during WWII and came back with him to his farm in rural Wisconsin. Her life with him was not what she expected it to be, but was still happy. Nearing 80, both of them now live in a retirement home, which is how they meet. Louise moves in while Cyril is in the hospital, recovering from serious injuries suffered after being dumped in a blizzard by an armed man who tried to rob him. Though very different, Cyril and Louise connect immediately and deeply. As their relationship grows, they begin sneaking out of the facility to have adventures, starting small and working up to bolder doings and eventually finding themselves in a dangerous situation. Being with each other and having these experiences brings joy and fulfillment to lives that might otherwise be sad and dreary as they near the end of their days. The book is beautifully narrated by Cyril and Louise in alternating chapters. This is a sweet and sensitive novel about growing old with dignity and not giving up on life, but finding joy until the end, despite physical frailties and the indignities that come with advanced age. The author, Zimmer, is in his 80s himself and is renowned for his poetry.

Hubbell – Circulation

leagueofdenialLeague of Denial: The NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth by Mark Fainaru-Wada, New Nonfiction 617.1027 Fai

Written by Pulitzer-winning and bestselling brothers Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada, League of Denial is a scathing summary of the NFL’s cover-up of its so-called ‘concussion problem.’ The book proves that for decades, the NFL denied publicly that concussions and head trauma led to disastrous long-term health problems while possessing information which blatantly contradicted their public statements. It is another damning allegation against a league in turmoil during its most profitable period in history. It is a must-read for any football fan as it calls into question whether the sport itself and the way it is played today is even compatible with maintaining long-term normal brain function. It also forces us to reevaluate whether the sport should be played by young people at all. The book was first published in 2013 and has since formed the basis for a PBS documentary of the same name. Its accusations and research have played a role in the NFL’s recent acceptance of the dangers of the game and its change in concussion treatment protocol.

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September

September2015coverIt’s September! Savor the glorious weather while it lasts and enjoy the recommended titles below.

 

 

Sue – Circulation

 calvaryCalvary starring Brendan Gleeson, New DVD Calvary

Brendan Gleeson shines in this powerful story that explores the effects of trauma on innocent lives. The movie opens with Father James, a kind-hearted and sensible Catholic priest in a small Irish village, in the confessional box. A parishioner tells the father that he was raped by a priest when he was a child and that he is going to murder the father in a week’s time as retribution. The movie then follows Father James through the remaining week, leading up to the stunning finale. We meet the colorful and troubled residents of the village and see what a good man Father James is and that his influence does truly help people.

Though dealing with a dark topic and the serious themes of forgiveness and redemption, the movie has a lot of humor and warmth in it and does a fine job of showing us life in all its aspects – parts of it are very funny, parts are heart-breakingly sad, and parts are horrifically violent. I found it deeply moving and thought it was one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time with a magnificent performance by Gleeson.

shadowsoverparadiseShadows Over Paradise by Isabel Wolff, New Fiction Wolff

This novel tells the story of two very different women – both of whom suffered a similar traumatic loss in their childhoods that have shaped their adult lives. Jenni is a London-based writer in her 30s who specializes in writing memoirs for others. She is reserved and does not like to draw attention to herself. Living with her boyfriend, their relationship is facing difficulties. Klara is a farmer of Dutch origin living in Cornwall whose family was interred by the Japanese on the Pacific island of Java during World War II. As her 80th birthday approaches, she decides to record the memories of her life and hires Jenni to write them for her. This is how the two women are brought together. Klara’s family moved from the Netherlands to Java in the Dutch East Indies to work on a rubber plantation when she was a child. At that time, the now independent country of Indonesia was under Dutch colonial rule. When the Japanese invaded, they interred all the Dutch colonials living there as the Netherlands had declared war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Though the book is fiction, the author researched the history of the Japanese occupation and the internment camps and spoke to survivors, so the book is historically accurate in its depiction of life on Java during the war. As Klara shares painful memories from her war years, Jenni gradually releases her long- hidden anguish over a childhood trauma. The book was very emotional and moving, dealing with such gut-wrenching issues as war atrocities and the untimely death of loved ones and the guilt over such losses. I have read much about the German concentration camps and the horror and suffering inflicted on people in those camps, but I was not as familiar with the Japanese internment camps for the Dutch/European residents of the Dutch East Indies. The book was a compelling read while also educating the reader about an important event in world history that has not been documented as well as the camps in the West.

littleparisbookshopThe Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, New Fiction George

This book celebrates life following loss. Its characters suffer loss, but also experience healing and find hope for the future and a renewed sense of purpose to their lives. The story opens with fifty-something Jean, a Parisian bookseller whose bookstore is situated on a barge moored on the banks of the Seine River. Jean doesn’t just sell books, though. He fancies himself a literary psychologist – matching the right book to the right person. He even refuses to sell a book to a person when he thinks it is the wrong book to address that person’s need. Jean lost his love 20 years ago, but has not allowed himself to mourn, so he has been stuck all this time, just existing, not really living, unwilling to take any chances. This inertia gets shaken from him when he reads a letter from his lost love he’s left unopened for 20 years and he sets out on his barge to her hometown. The book then follows his travels along the river, picking up first one, then more passengers on his journey into the heart of southern France. As Jean’s journey continues and he begins to heal from his loss, his life opens up to him and he is able to find joy in living again. Reading the book is a pleasure, with lush descriptions of the southern French countryside and Provencal food and wine. The book is full of life and healing, with romance, literature, magnificent landscapes, loyal friends, wise advise, and good food and drink. As a charming addition to the book, it also includes some authentic French recipes and a list of titles recommended by Jean and the ailments they will help cure.

Chris – Technical Services

ashes underwaterAshes Under Water: the SS Eastland and the Shipwreck That Shook America by Michael McCarthy, New Nonfiction 977.311 McC

July 24, 1915, the overturning of an excursion steamer on the Chicago River near Clark Street is a story of a horrible tragedy that killed 844 men, women, and children. Twenty-two whole families were wiped out and who was to blame? A true tale of Chicago politics, the Great Lakes shipping industry, a possible cover-up, and a courtroom drama with attorney Clarence Darrow.

liartemptressLiar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott, Nonfiction 973.785 Abb

A true story of four women, two pro-Confederacy and two pro-Union, all determined and willing to risk liberty and life for their cause.

 

Melissa – Technical Services

hotzoneThe Hot Zone by Richard Preston, Nonfiction 614.57 Pre

The Hot Zone by Richard Preston is simultaneously fascinating and terrifying. The term “hot zone” (in the biology field) means an area that is rampant with a virus. This book delves into the history of ebola outbreaks in Africa in the 80s and 90s, as well as its spread to the United States. Readers learn about how ebola is studied in laboratories, how it manifests itself in victims, the location of the first outbreak, how the virus migrated across continents, and what the four known strands do to the unfortunate people who catch them. The book reads like a thriller. Each new “character” that is introduced plays a key role in the research regarding ebola, and yet readers can’t help but wonder which researchers will die at the hands of the virus. At the close of the book, readers are left in awe of the world we inhabit. Despite all the technological and medical advances, there are still the most basic life forms yet undiscovered that can devastate the human race.

Brigitte – Circulation

melancholiaMelancholia starring Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, DVD Melancholia

Melancholia tells the story of Justine and Claire, two very different women faced with the end of life on Earth. While their personal relationships blossom and fail, a meteor races through space, ready to destroy the world. Justine, played by Kirsten Dunst, is a smart but generally anxious woman who is constantly at odds with her sister Claire, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg. Claire has her life together, but with the impending doom of Earth her life falls apart. This movie is visually stunning and sure to leave you breathless.

modernromanceModern Romance by Aziz Ansari, New Nonfiction 306.7 Ans

Modern Romance by comedian Aziz Ansari explores dating in the modern age. Known for his stand-up comedy as well as his breakout role as Tom Haverford on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, Ansari questions how modern technology is impacting the dating lives of the single people of 2015. Funny and sweet, this book is a healthy mix of facts, advice, and comedy.

Hubbell – Circulation

citizenfourCitizenfour produced and directed by Laura Poitras, New DVD 327.127 Citizenfour

Citizenfour, winner of the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary, chronicles the story of ex-CIA whistleblower Ed Snowden. While working as an analyst for the CIA in 2013, Snowden leaked a trove of documents detailing the NSA’s warrantless collection of Americans’ phone calls, emails, and other communications. This documentary follows Snowden from his first meetings in Hong Kong with the journalists who broke the story, Glenn Greenwald and the film’s director Laura Poitras, to his eventual asylum in Russia. After several secret clandestine meetings, Greenwald wrote the first of many revelatory articles and Snowden became the target of an international manhunt. This first-hand account of Snowden’s decision to reveal the government’s controversial spying program is simultaneously riveting, emotional, and thought-provoking.

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