Tag Archives: historical fiction

November 2018

november 2018

It’s November! Give some thanks and enjoy our Staff Picks!

 

 

 

 

Melissa – Technical Services

capoteCapote, Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, and Clifton Collins Jr., DVD Capote

Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in this biopic portraying the author Truman Capote as he began writing In Cold Blood. Hoffman captures the vivid presence and complexity that Capote was known for, and received a Golden Globe for his performance. In Cold Blood was the first of what we now know as the true crime genre, and paved the way for Helter Skelter, Dateline, true crime podcasts, and the like. Capote depicts how the author befriended the criminals and how he at times crossed the line for what was appropriate or ethical, all in service of the book that would make him the most famous author in America.

Paula – Circulation

book-club.jpgBook Club, Starring Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen, and Candice Bergen, New DVD Book Club

Book Club is a hilarious comedy about four best friends whose love lives are completely turned around after reading the Fifty Shades of Grey series. For their monthly book club, the women choose the steamy series in hopes that it might give them some inspiration to change their seemingly boring love lives. Sparks fly and comedy ensues as new romances are found and old flames are rekindled. The film is as charming and funny as it is relatable. A better cast could not have been put together to portray this dynamic group of friends.

Hubbell – Circulation

911.jpg9-1-1, Starring Angela Bassett, Connie Britton, and Peter Krause, New DVD 911 Season 1

Do you like mindless, brain-numbing, action-packed television!? Car accidents, impalements, mega-earthquakes, and more! 9-1-1 was a hit for FOX when it aired in 2017. Its plot and character development are by no means nuanced, but there is enough there among the characters (all of whom are police, firefighters, or 911 call center employees) to keep you invested in their well-being while the sometimes absurd emergencies they encounter are more than entertaining.

Chris – Technical Services

the-escape-artists.jpegThe Escape Artists : A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War, by Neal Bascomb, New Nonfiction 940.472 BAS

British RFC (Royal Flying Corps) pilots imprisoned during WWI in Holzminden, a land locked Alcatraz, made a “great escape” and a 150 mile trek to freedom in Holland in summer, 1918. A great read, I highly recommend it.

 

 

Jean – Reference

the-other-einstein1.jpgThe Other Einstein, by Marie Benedict, Fiction Benedict

“Behind every great man, is a woman”. This novel envisions how the Theory of Relativity, a ground-breaking physics theory credited to Albert Einstein, could just as easily (or likely?) been the brainstorm of his equally brilliant wife, Mileva Maric, a scientist in her own right, who has been erased by history.

 

 

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August 2018

august 2018

It’s August! Enjoy the rest of the summer with one of our Staff Picks!

 

 

 

Michelle – Administration

the tudorsThe Tudors, Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Henry Cavill, and Natalie Dormer, DVD Tudors Seasons 1-4

I recently re-watched the Showtime TV show The Tudors and I still found it to be an entertaining work of historical fiction mixed with actual events that occurred. The show follows the reign of King Henry VIII as a young man through the end of his life, highlighting his many marriages, the relationships in-between and his slow descent into cruel madness. Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as Henry VIII and the show also features Henry Cavill as the Duke of Suffolk, Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn and many other faces you may recognize. A word of warning, however, the show does not shy away from the bloody violence that was so abundant at the time. As they say – viewer discretion is advised!

Jean – Reference

baby teethBaby Teeth, by Zoje Stage, New Fiction Stage

For fans of Stephen King and Gillian Flynn, a psychological thriller in the vein of The Omen, that is creepy, yet fun.  For parents Suzette and Alex, their seven year old daughter’s perplexing behavior becomes more and more sinister as they try to make sense of her inability to speak (or is it an unwillingness)?  As we read alternating chapters in Hanna’s voice, it becomes clear that there is more going on than childish misbehavior.  But as we delve deeper and deeper into her psyche, the reader begins to wonder – is it a simple lack of ability to communicate, or is it just pure evil?

Paula – Circulation

AGameOfThronesA Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin, Fiction Martin

A Game of Thrones is the first book in the epic fantasy series A Song of  Ice and Fire, and the basis for the hit HBO TV series Game of Thrones. The series tells the story of the war for the Iron Throne between the Seven Kingdoms, and each of the noble families that claim they have the right to rule the land of Westeros. Each chapter is written from a different character’s point of view, giving the reader a unique experience by being able to see the conflict develop from multiple different sides. It is an exciting read as much as it is complex, dark, and bloody.

Pat – Circulation

then she was goneThen She Was Gone, by Lisa Jewell, New Fiction Jewell

Then She Was Gone is a psychological thriller. This book is about a young girl, Ellie, who goes missing one day on her way to the library. Ten years later her mother, Laurel, meets a man, Floyd, in a coffee shop and they strike up a friendship. When Laurel meets Floyd’s nine year old daughter she is taken aback at the striking resemblance she has to her missing daughter and she understandably cannot let the mystery go. The book was mysterious, sad, crazy, but engaging. Also some parts are disturbing, so be prepared for that.

Hubbell – Circulation

nobody knows your nameWhere Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball, by John Feinstein, Nonfiction 796.357 FEI

Minor league baseball players toil in small cities, ride buses across the country, eat crappy food, and stay in cheap motels. Washington Post columnist John Feinstein compiles the stories of nine minor league baseball players whose careers are marked by varying degrees of success. One waits eighteen years between major league at-bats. Another experiences fantastic success at the major league level and helps his team to a World Series championship only to be demoted after the post-season. Feinstein explores the day-to-day life of these players and coaches, but also uncovers some of the darker unknowns of minor league service. They lack a labor union, have no collective bargaining rights, are exempt from overtime pay and, on average, make less than minimum wage, all of which is explicitly permitted by law.

Melissa – Technical Services

11millionHow Do You Kill 11 Million People? by Andy Andrews, Nonfiction 320.01 AND

This book is an essay about integrity in politics and the consequences that derive from a lack of it. The author notes the Nazi government tactic of repeatedly lying to its citizens in order to get them to board the trains to concentration camps, and give up their wealth and security. He also explores how lying is regarded as commonplace in American politics. This essay is relevant for all governed peoples, and for all time.

 

 

 

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July 2018

july2018cover

It’s July! Celebrate summer and the 4th of July with some of our Staff Picks!

 

 

 

 

 

Michelle – Administration

love simonLove, Simon, Starring Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, and Josh Duhamel, New DVD Love, Simon

Love, Simon is an adorable coming-of-age story, made in the same style as my favorites from the 80’s, but modernized to reflect society and teens today. The movie, which made me both laugh and cry in equal measures, is based on the YA book “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” and follows the story of Simon Spier, who is keeping a huge secret from everyone in his life.

 

Chris – Technical Services

child in timeThe Child in Time, Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kelly MacDonald, and Stephen Campbell Moore, New DVD Child in Time

The Child in Time is a BBC Masterpiece Theatre 2017 production. Based on the award winning novel by Ian McEwan, it stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Kelly MacDonald as a couple who has lost a child. Don’t be put off by the heartbreaking story for it is “heart mending”, as a father works through the pain of a daughter lost. It is an exploration of love, loss, acceptance, and renewed hope and joy. I highly recommend it.

Hubbell – Circulation

the sinner'The Sinner, Starring Jessica Biel, Bill Pullman, and Christopher Abbott, New DVD Sinner Season 1

Jessica Biel is a happy new mother enjoying a day at the beach with her family when she commits a shocking act of violence without any provocation. She confesses, but the case’s detective, Bill Pullman, begins to ask questions about the true motivations of her crime. What is uncovered is a sad and sordid story of a sheltered girl, her devotion to a dying sister, and a hidden troubled upbringing. The Sinner surprises often, both in plot twists and sheer subject matter.

Paula – Circulation

lord of the ringsThe Lord of the Rings, Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, and Viggo Mortensen, DVD Lord…Fellowship, DVD Lord…Two, and DVD Lord…Return

One of the greatest fantasy series of all time, The Lord of the Rings is an absolute work of perfection. The series follows a young Hobbit named Frodo and his group of friends who are sent on a quest to destroy the One Ring of Power in order to save Middle Earth from falling into darkness. In the book series, J. R. R. Tolkien, a master of fiction, created an entire world full of unique characters and breathtaking landscapes that are beautifully depicted in the films. Each major character has their own story line that progresses throughout the films and captivates the viewers in a way that most stories do not. The Lord of the Rings is by far my favorite movie series, and is a must-see for all lovers of fantasy, adventure, friendship, and heroism.

 Mary – Reference

the caregiverThe Caregiver: Poems, by Caroline Johnson, New Nonfiction 811.54 JOH

This collection of poems is both beautiful and powerful, and while written as a tribute to the author’s parents, they are relatable to everyone. Managing her parent’s terminal illnesses over twelve years, the author states to have, “found caregiving to be the most important, profound job I’ve ever had. It has been a privilege and an honor…”

 

 

Jean – Reference

upside downUpside Down in the Middle of Nowhere, by Julie T. Lamana, Juvenile Fiction J Lamana

The experience of Hurricane Katrina written in the voice of a 10-year old girl, living in the lower-ninth ward. This story will transport you to the world of a young girl who wants nothing other than to celebrate her birthday party with her happy, tight-knit family, and yet finds her life literally ripped apart by the devastating hurricane and its aftermath. Prepared to be sad, moved and inspired – this book will stay with you for a long time after you finish reading it!

 

Melissa – Technical Services

lincoln in the bardoLincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders, Fiction Saunders

 “Bardo” is a state of being after death, similar to purgatory or limbo. It is where Abraham Lincoln’s youngest son, Willie, finds himself after dying of typhoid. He is not alone, rather surrounded by a truly colorful cast of characters whose forms are shaped by the lives they led; an artistic rendering of perpetual suffering. The prose itself is unique too, as the story is comprised entirely of either dialogue or quotes from historical sources. This is Saunders’s first novel, and it’s apparent why he won the 2017 Man Booker Prize for it. It’s vivid yet dark, and wholly transcendent.

 

 

 

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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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