Tag Archives: true crime

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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October 2018

october 2018

It’s October! Check out our Staff Picks for some good tricks and treats!

 

 

 

Pat – Circulation

deal with the devilA Deal with the Devil: The Dark and Twisted True Story of One of the Biggest Cons in History, by Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken, New Nonfiction 364.163 ELL

This is a very interesting and informative account of two investigative journalists from CNN Money who researched the French psychic Maria Duval scam. The scam spanned decades in which people, mostly vulnerable adults, where scammed out of $200 million dollars. Victims received personalized letters from a woman who, claiming amazing psychic powers, convinced them to send money in return for riches, good health, and good fortune. Ellis and Hicken travel around the globe and dig deep into obscure records to find the perpetrators of a silent but devastating crime.

Paula – Circulation

the conjuringThe Conjuring, Starring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Lili Taylor, DVD Conjuring

Based on the true case files of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, The Conjuring is the terrifying account of a family who was haunted by an evil spirit in the 1970’s. After moving into a new home, the Perron family must call on the famed Warrens to help them when strange and dark things begin happening in their farmhouse. The Conjuring is definitely one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. The fact that these events may have happened is truly haunting. In addition to a sequel, it has also inspired other horror films such as the Annabelle movies and The Nun. If you’re looking for a good scary movie to watch for Halloween this year, The Conjuring is the perfect one.

Hubbell – Circulation

sneaky-pete.jpgSneaky Pete, Starring Giovanni Ribisi, Peter Gerety, and Margo Martindale, New DVD Sneaky Pete Season 1

Marius is to be released from prison. Marius has no family or loved ones to return to. Marius steals his cell mate’s identity. Marius becomes Pete. Marius, coincidentally, is sneaky. Sneaky Pete is thus born. He knocks on the door of Pete’s family who haven’t seen him since he was a child. What Pete doesn’t expect is that this seemingly docile and loving family (with the always excellent Margo Martindale and Peter Gerety playing Pete’s grandparents) has a past and secrets of its own. Pete is faced with tough choices as he balances feelings of closeness with a newfound “family” and his previous life of psychopathy and avarice.

Michelle – Administration

woman walks aheadWoman Walks Ahead, Starring Jessica Chastain, Michael Greyeyes, and Sam Rockwell, New DVD Woman Walks Ahead

In this movie based on true events, Jessica Chastain plays Catherine Weldon, a New Yorker who travels alone to North Dakota in 1890 to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull. The films follows their growing friendship as well as the growing tensions between the Native Americans and the US Army in the lead up to the Massacre at Wounded Knee. This was an interesting story of both human relationships and the strength of a woman who was trying to follow her heart. The movie also stars Sam Rockwell and Michael Greyeyes as Sitting Bull.

white collarWhite Collar Season 1, Starring Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay, and Tiffany Thiessen, DVD White Collar Season 1

This show had been on my list to watch since it premiered in 2009, but it wasn’t until the recent rave reviews from my sister that I finally checked it out from the library. The show stars Matt Bomer as Neal Caffrey, an extremely charming art thief and con man who begins working with the FBI in exchange for an early release from prison. He works with FBI Agent Peter Burke, played by Tim DeKay, to catch other white collar criminals. The show is very witty and makes me laugh out loud at times. The two leads have great chemistry, which makes the show work even though the premise is slightly unbelievable. If you are looking for lighthearted entertainment, this is the show for you!

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March

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

 

 

Sue – Circulation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dagmar – Circulation

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

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

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

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

Theresa – Youth Services

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

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

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

Michelle – Administration

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

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

Hubbell – Circulation

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

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

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

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

17761776 by David McCullough, Nonfiction 973.3 McC

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

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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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