Tag Archives: Western

February 2019

february 2019It’s February! Fall in love with one of our Staff Picks!

 

 

 

 

Paula – Circulation

mary shelleyMary Shelley, starring Elle Fanning, Douglas Booth, and Bel Powley, New DVD Mary Shelley

This film tells the story of famed author Mary Shelley and the inspiration behind her greatest work, Frankenstein. After meeting and falling in love with poet Percy Shelley, Mary is thrown into a life of love, heartache, adventure, loss, and torment. She then uses this passion and despair as fuel for her story of Victor Frankenstein and his monstrous creation. Elle Fanning delivers an excellent performance as a young, haunted Mary Shelley. It is a dark yet enjoyable film that shows how loneliness and the absence of love can create monsters in us all.

Michelle – Administration

first manFirst Man, starring Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, and Corey Stoll, New DVD First Man

First Man is a look at the life of astronaut Neil Armstrong and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the moon. I did not know much about Armstrong to begin with and this movie was full of facts that I was not aware of. The movie is based on the book of the same name by James R. Hansen and is the only official biography of Armstrong and was written with the support of him and his family and coworkers. Unlike most other space exploration movies, this film does not glorify the astronauts, but shows their more human side, in both the triumphs and tragedies. This is a great movie for anyone interested in a closer look at Armstrong and the Apollo missions. However, there is one caveat, I did not like the way some of the film was shot. There are way too many extreme close-ups that I found distracting. The movie stars Ryan Gosling as Armstrong, Clarie Foy as his wife and a host of other well-known faces, including Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll and more.

a simple favorA Simple Favor, starring Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, and Henry Golding, New DVD Simple Favor

A Simple Favor centers around Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), who seeks to uncover the truth behind her new friend Emily’s (Blake Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. Stephanie is joined by Emily’s husband Sean (Henry Golding) in this stylish thriller filled with twists and turns, secrets, murder and revenge. The movie is a strange mix of comedy and thriller that I found to be an enjoyable new take on the genre. It is directed by well-known comedy director Paul Feig.

Brigitte – Youth Services

high noonHigh Noon, starring Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, and Thomas Mitchell, New DVD High Noon

Sick of the frigid temperature outside? Why not dive into a classic Spaghetti Western like High Noon? Fight a gang of outlaws with Gary Cooper under the New Mexican sun before riding off into the sunset with Grace Kelly. This newly remastered classic is sure to keep you warm all day long!

 

 

mary-shelley-creator.jpgMary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator, by Catherine Reef, New Nonfiction YA 921 SHELLEY, M. REE

Have you ever wondered who created Frankenstein? The story of Frankenstein’s creator is a strange, romantic, and tragic one, as deeply compelling as the novel itself. Catherine Reef brings Mary Shelley back to life in this Nonfiction YA book about a woman who was truly ahead of her time.

 

 

Melissa – Technical Services

first comes marriage.jpgFirst Comes Marriage: My Not-So-Typical American Love Story, by Huda Al-Marashi, New Nonfiction 306.81 ALM

As a child of Iranian immigrants, Huda, like so many other second generation immigrants, faces a seemingly constant struggle between the culture she is raised in and the culture in which she lives. The focus of this memoir is on the practice of marriage in Muslim culture within America. Huda is eager to partake in the religious traditions, yet still finds herself drawn in by American romantic tropes and looks for ways to meld the two. Her memoir is an engrossing glimpse into the love life of a woman seeking to simultaneously fulfill her romantic dreams of two vastly different cultures.

Hubbell – Circulation

marwencol.jpegMarwencol, DVD 617.481 MARWENCOL

The inspiration for the 2018 release Welcome to Marwen starring Steve Carrell, Marwencol is the true story of Mark Hogancamp. Sad, but ultimately inspiring, the film shows Mark to us in the one place he feels comfortable, creating an enormous miniature WWII era town in upstate New York using customized figurines and props. He creates stories for his characters and chronicles all of their activities with professional level photography. Mark’s story was uncovered and then exhibited to the modern art world, where his personality is free to come through. Mark’s past, though, includes an extraordinarily violent beating which left him near death and wiped his memories. He must literally re-learn and re-invent himself with limited cognitive ability. As always, the true story exceeds the current retelling.

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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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June 2018

june2018

It’s June! Summer is just around the corner! Grab a good read and enjoy the warm weather.

 

 

 

 

Jean – Reference

radium girlsThe Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women, by Kate Moore, YA 363.17 MOO

If you have ever wondered if corporations have the public’s or worker’s best interest at heart, this book will cure you of that belief. This is an amazing and under-told story of young women in their early twenties (and teenagers) after WWI who worked in factories painting luminous watch dial-faces with paint mixed with toxic radium. These women suffered terrible effects of radioactive poisoning and died horrible deaths within years. The companies knew of the harmful effects, and kept their employees in the dark. Some workers were even outright fired as they became ill. The women brought ‘David and Goliath’ lawsuits (some on their deathbeds) against the corporations and won hard-fought protections for workers everywhere.

Paula – Circulation

westworldWestworld, Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Anthony Hopkins, and Ed Harris, DVD Westworld Season 1

Westworld is the thrilling tv series about a theme park gone wrong. Set in the future, Westworld exists as a park that allows vacationers to indulge in their wildest fantasies without any consequences. The inhabitants of the park are robotic hosts that are created to serve the needs of the guests that come to visit. However, as some of the hosts begin to gain sentience, a chain reaction of events occurs, plunging the park into complete chaos. Westworld is a phenomenal series full of complex details and unforgettable characters. The fast-paced story and numerous plot twists will leave you guessing until the very end.

Hubbell – Circulation

deadwoodDeadwood, Starring Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, and Molly Parker, DVD Deadwood

HBO’s Deadwood is frequently classified as a show which was canceled too soon. It is an ultrarealistic time period piece taking place in the black hills of South Dakota in the 1870’s. The main characters are, generally, based off of real-life ones, including brothel owner Al Swearengen, sheriff Seth Bullock, and other famous western characters like Calamity, Wild Bill Hickock, Annie Oakley, and others. The show takes care to frame the drama in the historical context of its time. It was simultaneously hilarious, shocking, dirty, and endearing.

Jacob – Administration

durrellsThe Durrells in Corfu, Starring Keeley Hawes, Josh O’Connor, and Milo Parker, DVD Durrells in Corfu

The Durrells in Corfu is a PBS Masterpiece television series about an English mother that moves her four reluctant children to a Greek island in hopes of starting anew. The series tracks the ups and downs of this family, often in a comedic way, as they acclimate to a new culture and a new way of living. The series has great characters and breath taking scenery. Two enthusiastic thumbs up.

 

Chris – Technical Services

tree of forgivenessThe Tree of Forgiveness, by John Prine, New CD 781.64 Prine

The Tree of Forgiveness is an excellent album by John Prine, a folk, country, and protest musician from Chicago. If you visited the clubs in Old Town in the ’70s, you would have definitely heard him.

 

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It’s DecemberDec2015cover! Enjoy the holidays with your loved ones and check out the recommended titles below.

 

 

 

Sue – Circulation

onceagainitschristmasOnce Again It’s Christmas by Kenny Rogers, New CD 781.72 Rogers

This is a new Christmas album by Kenny Rogers. His last Christmas album was released in 1998. This CD includes classic Christmas carols including The Little Drummer Boy, Winter Wonderland, and I’ll Be Home for Christmas, as well as original songs and duets with Alison Krauss and Jennifer Nettles. My favorites of the original songs are Once Again It’s Christmas and The Light. I also enjoyed There’s A New Kid in Town and Back to Bethlehem, which have been covered by other artists as well. Once Again It’s Christmas is a nostalgic song about the joys of the Christmas season. It reminds me of the classic song Silver Bells. The Light is a lovely ballad exalting the virtues of the Christian faith. The song includes accompaniment by a choir and an orchestra. There’s a New Kid in Town is a beautiful, melodic song celebrating the birth of Jesus. Back to Bethlehem is about the troubles of the modern world and returning to the values of Christmas. The album has a soft and peaceful mood, with string instruments and piano featuring on most of the songs, and makes a strong addition to our Christmas collection.

homefiresHome Fires starring Samantha Bond and Francesca Annis, New DVD Home Fires

This is a PBS period drama about the British home front during World War II, set in a small community in rural Cheshire and following the lives of the members of the local Women’s Institute. It was inspired by the nonfiction book Jambusters by Julie Summers, a history of the Women’s Institute during the war and its contributions to the war effort. The series opens in August 1939 and goes through the Battle of Dunkirk in May 1940. The series has been renewed for a second season, which will open in the summer of 1940 during the Battle of Britain.

Over 300,000 women were members of the Women’s Institute during the war. They did their part for the war effort by growing and preserving food, knitting for the troops, organizing the evacuation of children and taking in evacuees, setting up canteens for the troops, and raising money for needed supplies.

I am fascinated by the history of the home front of England during WWII – how England stood alone against Hitler and how strong the people were to keep going in the face of years of war and all the suffering and loss. The Blitz, food shortages, rationing, the death of loved ones on the battlefield and at home, constant fear of bombings, and yet they not only endured, but maintained positive, can-do attitudes. It is remarkable what women accomplished on the home front despite all the hardships and the strength and resolve shown by them. Women did men’s work in the factories and fields, kept their families fed when there was no food, lost not only husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers, but also women and children to bombings and other wartime events, took in evacuees, gave up their homes or land or possessions to the war effort, and in the end, they did their part to defeat Hitler.

halfbrokehorsesHalf Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, Fiction Walls

This novel by the author of the acclaimed memoir The Glass Castle is a fictional account of the life of the author’s grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, written in her grandmother’s voice. Lily was a woman ahead of her time, strong and independent. Born in the early 1900s, she spent much of her life on ranches in the American West. By the age of six, she was working with her father breaking wild horses. She went on to become a teacher, working in rural one-room school houses, and a mother of two. In addition to her skills with horses and teaching, she also learned how to fly an airplane, all great accomplishments for a woman of that time. She was a tough and practical-minded woman with good common sense who did not suffer fools gladly. The book was entertaining as Lily had an adventuresome life. Besides her experiences on the ranch, which involved flash floods, harsh winters, and all the other troubles that come with livestock and living off the land, teaching, and raising her children, she raced horses, ran moonshine, lost her sister tragically, married a con man before finding happiness with her second husband, and survived both the Depression and WWII. She passed away when the author was eight years old and is fondly remembered by her family.

Theresa – Youth Services

heartshapedboxHeart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, Fiction Hill

This is a ghost story about an aging rock star known for his strange and macabre collections. When he finds out that someone is selling a ghost, he has to have it. What he gets is a suit…the ghost’s suit, which comes in a heart-shaped box. What he doesn’t realize is that he was tricked into buying this ghost who has a reason to want him or anyone who helps him dead. It’s difficult to imagine that a ghost could cause bodily harm, but this one convinces his victims to harm themselves. Scary!

I enjoyed this as a perfect book to set the mood for Halloween. After reading it, I found out that the author, Joe Hill, is actually Joseph Hillstrom King, the son of authors Stephen and Tabitha King. He decided to use an abbreviated form of his given name in 1997, out of a desire to succeed based solely on his own merits rather than as the son of famous writers. After achieving a degree of independent success, Hill publicly confirmed his identity in 2007.

Dagmar – Circulation

hemingway

Hemingway & Gellhorn starring Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman, DVD Hemingway

Hemingway & Gellhorn is a 2012 HBO biopic film by director Philip Kaufman (The Unbearable Lightness of Being), starring Nicole Kidman as Hemingway’s third wife Martha Gellhorn and Clive Owen as Ernest Hemingway. They are one of the most famous American literary couples. The film tells the story of their passionate love affair and tumultuous marriage; it depicts the conflicts between the career of a great literary master and that of his beautiful wife, a trailblazing war correspondent. The adventurous writers, who meet by chance in 1936 in a Key West bar, meet again in Spain and they go together through the Spanish Civil War and stay there until 1939. She becomes his muse for the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. In 1940, Hemingway divorces his second wife and marries Martha. Together they witness history and cover the great conflicts of their time, but the war they could not survive was their own. “We were good in war,” says Kidman as the renowned war correspondent Gellhorn. “When there was no war, we made our own.” In 1945, Martha Gellhorn asks Hemingway for a divorce. Kidman received a lot of well-deserved praise for her performance as Martha Gellhorn, especially for using her beauty – exceptional figure and old- fashioned movie star glamour – to full effect. Owen portrays well Hemingway’s charisma and his legendary temper. The film also features an all-star supporting cast and has a lot of extraordinary archival footage scenes. The only flaw the film has is its length – 155 minutes. But it may be a good film to watch on one of those long winter nights.

Hubbell – Circulation

sixthextinctionThe Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, New Nonfiction 576.84 Kol or New CD 576.84 Kol (audiobook)

Written by journalist Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction examines the patterns of the phenomenon of mass extinction throughout natural history. The author, through the presentation of convincing scientific evidence, purports that we presently are in the sixth such massive die-off in Earth’s history. Kolbert keeps the tone light, however, and even entertaining with chapters like The Rhino Gets an Ultrasound and Dropping Acid. The first chronicles zoologists’ attempts at sustaining population of the near-extinct Asian Rhino while the the latter explains the process of ocean acidification and its dire consequences on marine biodiversity. By analyzing past examples of extinction periods throughout the geological ages, Kolbert (and scientists) suggest we have now entered a new period called the Anthropocene Epoch, in which humans have irreversibly changed the very nature of biology on the planet.

Brigitte – Circulation

natlampoonxmasNational Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase, DVD National Lampoon’s

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is a Christmas classic that the whole family is sure to love. If you are feeling nostalgic this holiday season, check out this comedy starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, a man just trying to make the holidays fun for his family, often with hilariously disastrous results. Yule love it!

Jacob – Circulation

DeadwakeDead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson, Nonfiction 940.4514 Lar

The Lusitania was a luxury cruise liner headed from New York to Liverpool. Tragically, the ship was torpedoed by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland and sank on May 7, 1915. Through meticulous research and historical documents, Erik Larson intertwines the stories of the ship and the submarine, while telling the story of this historic turning point in WWI. If you are a fan of Larson’s previous works, you will definitely enjoy this one as well.

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December 1, 2015 · 2:47 am

August

augdogdays2015possible The dog days of summer have arrived! Enjoy languid days reading and watching the recommended titles below.

 

 

Mary – Youth Services

gosetawatchmanGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, New Fiction Lee

Go Set a Watchman begins when Scout (now called “Jean Louise”) returns from college in New York, to visit her aging father in her hometown of Maycomb, Alabama. All seems to be, at first, as it always had been. A childhood friend, named Henry becomes a determined romantic pursuer; Jean Louise’s Aunt Alexandra oversees that Jean Louise is getting in touch with young girls who never left town for college. Maycomb itself is enclosed in in a quiet standstill, and this childhood stomping ground still holds Jean Louise’s past like a time-capsule. But this mirage is broken, and it is broken fairly quickly as Jean Louise discovers that many individuals within her town – most notably her father, lawyer Atticus Finch – harbor terrifying ideals on race, and what constitutes an ideal American South.

The first thing one needs to know about this book is that it is not To Kill a Mockingbird, this is a very different story. In fact, Go Set a Watchman was written before To Kill a Mockingbird. After reading this book, I firmly believe Lee wrote it, and it appears to be largely unedited. I also believe that this work was published with her consent. If you are looking for a nod to Mockingbird, however, there is a reference within Go Set a Watchman to the events of that famous trial, with one major plot point changed. It seems like whatever happened to have Mockingbird published before Watchman rests largely with the fact that publishers wanted an earlier version of the famous social-justice lawyer, Atticus Finch. Simply put: they wanted a hero.

In many ways, this work opens a Pandora’s box filled with many of our country’s deep-set problems. Not one character within this story exhibits a healthy perspective on race, an issue which the work is largely concerned with. Even Jean Louise, who can be considered the best of the lot, has a view of race which is problematic, at best. And yes, this will make many people uncomfortable. But because of this, I would argue that Go Set a Watchman is the story that we need for our modern age. This book challenges one to see that even if you believe you have healthy perspectives on race, on sexist attitudes, on religion and bigotry, you better look closer.

But as Atticus’ brother, Dr. Finch, points out, it is time and time again that history will repeat itself. Wars are fought. Lives end. And still, we attach ourselves to heroes. To this, Dr. Finch poses the most interesting question of the novel: When we see our hero’s true face, why is it then we turn away?

stillaliceStill Alice starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, and Kristen Stewart, New DVD Still Alice

Dr. Alice Howard is a celebrated linguist and professor at Columbia University. Only in her fifties, Alice begins to think that something is terribly wrong when small instances of forgetfulness progress to her inability to remember important events and people. Thinking she has a brain tumor, she sets out to find a neurologist, only to find out that she has a rare diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. There are few works which cover the pure confusion and rage at the loss of personal identity to Alzheimer’s disease. An uncomfortable topic for many to openly discuss, individuals with Alzheimer’s are often at odds with their diminishing sense of identity, and the loss of their ability to convey their experiences to others. Julianne Moore gives what was an Oscar-winning performance of Dr. Alice, and it was well-deserved. She brings an astounding performance to this film which challenges the boundaries of what we think is identity, what it means to be alive, and what it means to lose and love. Astounding film that all should see.

Chris – Technical Services

zookeeperswifeThe Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman, CD 940.53 Ack (audiobook) or Nonfiction 940.53 Ack (book)

Drawing on Antonina’s Zabinski’s diary and other historical sources, naturalist Diane Ackerman re-creates life at the Warsaw Zoo before, during, and after WWII. A not particularly brave person, she finds herself responsible for her own extended family, the zoo animals, resistance activists, and the refuge Jews, many smuggled out of the Warsaw Ghetto. A Polish Christian, she, her husband Jan, and young son believe it is their duty to help all, both animal and human, to survive the Nazi terror. Ackerman, the author of the bestselling A Natural History of the Senses, examines the role of nature in both kindness and savagery, and explores the disturbing obsession at the core of Nazism.

Sue – Circulation

holycowHoly Cow by David Duchovny, New Fiction Duchovny

David Duchovny (yes, that David Duchovny, who has a Master’s degree in Literature from Yale in addition to his acting skills) has written a funny and impactful novel. Holy Cow tells the story of Elsie, a cow on a family farm in upstate New York who discovers that she and the other animals on the farm are destined for slaughter. Upon learning this horrifying news, she decides to run away to India, a country where cows are not eaten, but revered. As she makes her plan to escape, she is joined by a pig named Jerry who wants to go to Israel (no pork in the diet) and a turkey named Tom who wants to go to Turkey (where hopefully he will be respected in a country named after him and not eaten for Thanksgiving.) The three animals’ zany adventures around the world are recounted by Elsie with a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor, including puns and pop culture references, as well as little nuggets of wisdom. The book is written to be humorous and quirky, but the points Duchovny makes about the horror of factory farms and mankind’s role in the destruction of the environment are valid and worthy.

longmire

Longmire starring Robert Taylor, DVD Longmire, Season 1-3

This series stars Australian actor Robert Taylor as Walt Longmire, an old-fashioned county sheriff in Wyoming. Walt recently lost his wife and is returning to work. Walt is a very honorable man, hard-working and trustworthy and deeply caring and loyal. Through the first three seasons of the series, his wife’s death and its effect on Walt and his daughter Cady is explored. His wife was suffering from cancer, but dark circumstances surrounding her death are revealed as the series goes on. Walt is running for re-election and his deputy, Branch, is running against him, financed by his rich and unscrupulous father. Unbeknownst to Longmire, his daughter is also romantically involved with Branch. The show co-stars Lou Diamond Phillips as Longmire’s best friend Henry, part Cheyenne and proprietor of the local tavern, and Katee Sackhoff as Walt’s trusted deputy Vic, a transplant from Philadelphia with a storied past. Walt’s jurisdiction runs up against a Cheyenne Indian reservation and he sometimes clashes with the chief of the tribal police. The show stands out from standard crime dramas because of the rural setting, which includes cowboys, Native Americans, cattle, and wide open spaces. It is also slower-paced than most detective shows, befitting its Wyoming setting where life moves at a different pace than big cities. I enjoy the show because of the richly developed characters and intriguing mysteries. It is an intelligent, well-made series with an outstanding cast. Unfortunately, A&E cancelled Longmire after Season 3, but it was picked up by Netflix for a fourth season, which is scheduled to air this fall.

grandmotheraskedmeMy Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman, New Fiction Backman

The second novel from the author of A Man Called Ove. Seven-year old Elsa is different and gets cruelly picked on at her school. Her eccentric grandmother is 77 and Elsa’s best and only friend and stalwart defender. Every night, Elsa and her grandmother journey to a magical place called the Land of Almost Awake – a fairy tale world created by Granny that consists of a number of different kingdoms, all with their own purpose and heroes. In this magical world where being different is celebrated, Elsa feels safe and happy. When her grandmother dies after taking ill, Elsa sets out to deliver a series of letters her grandmother left behind for various people from her life, most of whom are residents of the apartment building owned by Granny where Elsa lives. As Elsa proceeds through each delivery, she learns much about her grandmother’s life before she was born and about the lives of the people around whom she has grown up without really knowing or understanding. She realizes that the stories she has heard her whole life in the Land of Almost Awake are actually pieces of the truth of Granny’s amazing life. This book is a bit complex, with the fantasy world of the Land of Almost Awake colliding with the real world, but it all comes together in the end. I didn’t enjoy it as much as A Man Called Ove, which was wonderful and one of the best new books I’ve read in years, but it is a worthy read, more serious-minded and sadder than Ove, but with a hopeful ending.

Brigitte – Circulation

wolfinwhitevanWolf in a White Van by John Darnielle, New Fiction Darnielle

Wolf in a White Van is the first novel by musician John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. It tells the story of Sean Phillips, a young man with a severe facial disfigurement who is attempting to grapple with the humdrum of every day life as a disabled person. This novel has been described as a deep meditation on escapism, especially through the means of role-playing games. It’s definitely a must-read for the summer if you are looking for something a little heavier.

softskinThe Soft Skin starring Jean Desailly and Francoise Dorleac , New DVD Soft Skin

The Soft Skin is the latest of Francois Truffaut’s films to receive acclaim. This movie follows Jean Desailly, a bored literary scholar, married to his wife but wanting more. He is charmed by Nicole, a flight attendant, and soon they begin an affair. As their relationship grows, the film becomes more frantic. As Jean’s life begins to fall apart, so does the world around him. The ending of this fast paced French film will leave you breathless.

 

Michelle – Administration

exmachinaEx Machina starring Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander, New DVD Ex Machina

This movie took a very interesting look at the creation and use of Artificial Intelligence and the place for AI in the world. It was beautifully acted and kept my full attention until the end. It also gave me something to think about long after the movie was over.

 

chappieChappie starring Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver, New DVD Chappie

This movie also delved into the world of AI and what it means to be human. Chappie was completely unexpected. I’d seen the advertising far too many times and I don’t think it captured what this movie is truly about. I cared more about the AI in this movie than I did most of the human characters. As a bonus, it is fun to watch Hugh Jackman play the villain!

 

Hubbell – Circulation

wildtalesWild Tales (Relatos Salvajes) starrring Ricardo Darin and Oscar Martinez, New DVD Wild Tales

A 2014 Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Wild Tales is a collection of six distinct vignettes set in modern day Argentina showing everyday people thrown into emotionally charged situations. Produced by Academy Award-winning director Pedro Almodóvar, Wild Tales plunges the viewer into life-or-death situations and presents moral dilemmas where good intentions are not what they seem. You will find yourself unclear about whom to support as the characters take justice into their own hands. The movie’s stories include an episode of lethal road rage following a casual insult, a man’s crazed revenge on a towing company, a family’s plan to do whatever it takes to protect their son from a long prison sentence, and a bride’s maniacal wedding night retaliation on her cheating fiance. Wild Tales is simultaneously hilarious, violent, shocking, and humanizing.

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