Tag Archives: WWI

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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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

April

aprilshowers1April is National Poetry Month and April 12-18 is National Library Week. So celebrate your local library and its positive contribution to your community while enjoying these recommended titles, including poetry and prose, as well as movies.

 

Sue – Circulation

flyingatnightFlying at Night, Poems 1965-1985 by Ted Kooser, 811.54 Koo

Ted Kooser grew up in Iowa and now lives in Nebraska. He has won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 2004 to 2006. His poetry is firmly rooted in Midwestern values and way of life. He writes of the simple lives of Midwestern farmers, writing often of his grandparents or other ancestors and objects or heirlooms from the past. His poems brilliantly use metaphors and similes to make his words come to life and show the joy and wonder of ordinary life. I find his poetry soothing and beautiful. I am a country girl at heart and long for the kind of simple, rural life that his poems celebrate. In this volume of poetry, I feel you get the most out of the book by readings the poems as a whole, but if I had to pick one that I liked the most, I would pick “Flying at Night”, which compares the light of a galaxy with the light in a farmer’s yard, showing at the same time the enormity of the universe and the interconnectedness of all life, large or small. I also liked “A Quarter Moon Just Before Dawn” where Kooser uses the metaphor of the moon as an old woman, stooping to “pick up a star that she’s dropped in her garden.”

collectedpoemsCollected Poems, 1951-1971 by A.R. Ammons, 811.54 Ammons

A.R. Ammons was an award-winning American poet, including a two-time winner of the National Book Award for Poetry. He was born to a tobacco farmer in 1926 and grew up in rural North Carolina. He passed away in 2001. His poetry is a warm affirmation of the beauty and wonder of nature and man’s relationship to nature. My favorite poem in this collection is “Eyesight”, in which a man is so busy that he misses the coming of spring. He laments to the mountains and they tell him that he can still catch spring if he travels further north, but it’s not that way with all things, some things if you miss them, they are gone forever. I like this poem because it reminds us to slow down and appreciate what is before us right now, whether it be the beauty of nature, our family, our friends, or anything else that may be lost and then it is too late.

annesextonThe Complete Poems by Anne Sexton, 811.54 Sex

Anne Sexton had a very troubled life, which is reflected in her poetry. She suffered from mental illness, spent time in mental hospitals, and took her own life at age 45. Despite this, her work has won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Her poems are powerful and raw and speak of her personal struggles, as well as issues all of us face in our lives. My favorite poem of Sexton’s is “Courage”, which speaks of courage not as running into a burning building to save lives or something equally dramatic, but in many small moments over the course of our lives, such as a child riding a bike for the first time, a teenager surviving taunts of peers, adults surviving the death of loved ones, and the strength to face old age and all its indignities. It is a beautiful poem, very moving and inspirational.

finesummersdayA Fine Summer’s Day by Charles Todd, New Fiction Todd

This is the 17th book in the Ian Rutledge series by the fine historical fiction author Charles Todd. The series begins in 1919 with Ian Rutledge, a Scotland Yard inspector, returning to work following his service as an officer in World War I. What Rutledge is keeping a secret is that he returned from the war suffering from shell shock – today called post-traumatic stress disorder. In that time, soldiers suffering from this disorder were considered weak and were treated with contempt. During the war, Rutledge had a traumatic experience involving a Scottish soldier named Hamish under his command that led to Hamish’s death. Now Rutledge is haunted by the voice of Hamish in his head. Added to this, Rutledge’s boss dislikes him and treats him unfairly, which is why he has not been promoted, though he is an excellent detective with a strong history of solving difficult cases. This book is especially interesting because it takes us back in time to 1914, before the war began, and shows us Rutledge’s life pre-war and the last case he solved before he went to France. We meet some familiar characters from the series, including his fiance, whom we know later betrays him. The book also explains how the war developed over the weeks and months following the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the British people’s attitudes and fears about a possible war. For those who have read the whole series, this is a fascinating look at Rutledge before the war damaged him. If you are new to the series, you could read this one first, since it is chronologically first, or start with book one and work your way up to this one.

Mary – Youth Services

normalheartThe Normal Heart starring Mark Ruffalo and Jim Parsons, DVD Normal

The Normal Heart opens at the beginning of the HIV/AIDS crisis in New York City in 1981. It follows writer and activist Ned Weeks as he struggles to understand and aggressively fight against the blind eye cast upon HIV/AIDS, and those who were dying from it. Little can precisely describe what the true events of the HIV/AIDS crisis were like, but this film gives more than a glimpse into the horror and rage of the times. With a brilliant cast of individuals like Jim Parsons to Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts, this film is unspeakably difficult to watch, but is one of the best I have seen. Although ultimately hopeful, The Normal Heart reflects the belief of its playwright and screenwriter, Larry Kramer, that in the arena of human rights, there is still so much more work that needs to be done.

theoryofeverythingThe Theory of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, New DVD Theory

If there is anything quite sparkling and dazzling to the Hollywood eye at the moment, it is the subject of The Genius. If the individual was the “tortured” type, well, throw in a brownie point. Stephen Hawking definitely had his fair share of challenges, and is quite the colossal mind, but I think what The Theory of Everything uniquely captures – unlike other genius-trope films – is Stephen Hawking as a human being. This film is heralded by Hawking himself, and is based on his first wife’s memoir of their life together, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, and it covers his early academic years, family, and working with the progression of his motor-neuron disease. Most notably, Eddie Redmayne (playing Stephen Hawking) becomes indistinguishable, absolutely sinking into the skin of man he portrays with a brilliant performance.

intothewoodsInto the Woods starring Meryl Steep and Johnny Depp, New DVD Into

Witches, princesses, and princes are all coexisting on the edge of the dark, dark woods. But what lies within those woods? It may sound like the setup for types of fairy tales we hear over and over – and we may be tired of – but thankfully, Into the Woods has the twist that only Stephen Sondheim can provide. A renewal of classic fairy tales, Into the Woods is a film based off a musical bearing the same name. It follows the fairy tales we all know – Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella – past their happy-ever-afters to endings that, well, aren’t quite happy at all. It must have been a massive undertaking to adapt the Stephen Sondheim musical to screen, but it was expertly done. And Meryl Streep is in it. What more can I say? Well: It’s quite good!

Jacob – Circulation

yeschefYes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson, OB Internet Download (e-book)

Marcus Samuelsson is an award-winning chef and this book chronicles his journey. His unique upbringing, born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden by adoptive parents, provides interesting insight as he climbs the chef and restaurant ranks. Marcus appears frequently on the Food Network and has cooked for the President of the United States. If you are a fan of memoirs or cooking, this book is for you!

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March

Marchcoverdog

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

 

 

Jacob – Circulation

wintersboneWinter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell, Fiction Woodrell 

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

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

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

Sue – Circulation

thehumansThe Humans by Matt Haig, Fiction Haig

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

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

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

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

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

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd, Fiction Todd

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

Mary – Youth Services

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

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

affinityAffinity by Sarah Waters, Fiction Waters

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

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

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

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January

JanuarycoverWelcome to 2015! Start off the year with some good books!

 

 

Chris – Technical Services

700sundaysBilly Crystal 700 Sundays, New DVD 792.7028 Billy Crystal

Based on his one-man Broadway show, this HBO comedy special will fill you with laughter, but more-so with tears – of joy and sorrow as he recounts the people and influences in his life that made him what he is today.

 

peopleuncountedA People Uncounted: The Untold Story of the Roma, New DVD 909.049 People Uncounted

For those interested in WWII history or the Holocaust this is an excellent film, but difficult to watch. A heartbreaking story of the people we call “gypsies” in Europe during the Holocaust in WWII and their continued marginalization.

 

Jacob – Circulation

borntorunBorn to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall, Nonfiction 796.425 McD

Christopher McDougall was constantly getting injured while running. While researching relief for his foot ailments, he came across a tribe of Indians who live in Mexico’s Copper Canyons and enjoy running hundreds of miles without stopping or getting injured. Interested in discovering this tribe’s secrets and how ultra-marathon runners push their bodies to the limits, Christopher McDougall takes the reader from Harvard science labs to the hot, unforgiving canyons of Mexico. This interesting book takes a close look at what it takes to run and how deep down we are all capable of running great distances. Christopher McDougall is an award-winning journalist and writes a great narrative that is uplifting as much as informational.

Skyskyjackjack: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper by Geoffrey Gray, Nonfiction 364.1552 Gray

This book investigates the infamous case of a man who boarded a Northwest Orient flight in 1971, exhorted $200,000 from the airline, and then parachuted out of the plane over the Pacific Northwest to never be heard from again. Taking a look at never before seen FBI files and discovering possible new clues, Geoffrey Gray reworks the case, making sure to highlight the various scenarios and suspects. This book keeps the reader guessing and wondering if maybe after all these years the mystery will be solved.

Sue – Circulation

docmartinDoc Martin, starring Martin Clunes, DVD Doc, Series 1-6

This is a PBS series about a curmudgeonly London vascular surgeon named Martin who develops a phobia of blood and has to give up surgery. He moves to a small village in Cornwall where his aunt lives and he spent summers as a child to become the local general practitioner. His brusque manner does not go well with the local residents. The show is populated by colorful characters, including the local plumber and his son, the doctor’s receptionist, the village police officer, and a lovely school teacher named Louisa for whom Martin develops romantic feelings. The show is funny and entertaining and the Cornwall landscape is magnificent. It even has a big, lovable dog to top it all off. Season 7 will be filmed in 2015.

ajThe Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, New Fiction Zevin

This feel-good book begins with bookstore owner A.J. slowly drinking himself to death after losing his wife suddenly in a car accident. On top of his grief for his wife, a rare and valuable copy of a collection of poems by Edgar Allan Poe that A.J. was counting on to get him through declining sales at his store is stolen. A.J.’s life turns around when a two-year-old child is left abandoned in his bookstore shortly after the robbery. A.J. cares for the child, Maya, while social services is sorting things out and ends up falling in love with her and adopting her. Maya reinvigorates A.J.’s life, giving him a reason to live again and bringing new people and experiences into his life. A quick read that tells a lovely story of renewal, not only for A.J., but also others in his life, including his sister-in-law, suffering in a loveless marriage to an unfaithful husband, the local police chief, lonely like A.J., and Amelia, a publishing representative who visits A.J. a couple times a year to sell him books for the store, whom A.J. finds himself attracted to despite getting off on the wrong foot with her on her first visit.

LewisInspector Lewis, starring Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox, New DVD Inspector, Series 1-7

A spin-off of the BBC detective series Inspector Morse, this series follows Robbie Lewis, former sergeant to John Thaw’s Morse. Robbie lost his wife in a tragic hit-and-run and took some time away from the force. He now returns, promoted to detective inspector with a new sergeant named James Hathaway, solving crimes for the Oxfordshire police as he mourns his loss and rebuilds his life. Robbie and James are both complex characters and their relationship grows and deepens as the series goes on. In addition to excellent character development, the series also presents the viewer with intelligent, compelling mysteries. Entertaining and well-made, this is the kind of quality show you expect from the BBC. The show was cancelled after six seasons, but was then brought back for a seventh season. An eighth season has been announced and will be filmed in summer 2015.

Mary – Youth Services

savingmrbanksSaving Mr. Banks, starring Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks, DVD Saving

Author P.L. Travers is low on cash, luck, and morale when she is contacted by Walt Disney for the rights to her most beloved children’s book character, Mary Poppins. With great reluctance, she decides to go to Walt Disney’s studios to oversee the creation of her children’s book as it enters the film world. Emma Thompson plays a wonderfully complex and moving portrait of an author who writes for the very same reason Mary Poppins comes to the Banks family: not to change lives of children, but rather, the adults who influence their world.

smokeinyoureyesSmoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty, Nonfiction 363.75 Dou

Creator of the unexpectedly hilarious and poignant web series Ask a Mortician, Caitlin Doughty is a crematory operator and champion of the alternative death practice in the United States. If you ever wondered what life is like for those who take care of our dead, there is no greater place to look that Caitlin’s videos and writings. In her memoir, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, she chronicles her experiences at Westwind Crematorium, and her growth as a person, yielding pathos far beyond her years. (Also, if you are worried this topic sounds morbid, rest assured—she. is. hilarious.)

awesomewaveAn Awesome Wave by Alt-J, CD 781.66 Alt-J

An album that is sure to stand the test of time for its original sound, An Awesome Wave is the product of the indie British band Alt-J. It is quite hard to describe the atmosphere this music creates, but it is largely unique due to the vocals of Joe Newman. Lovely, melodic, and mellow; Alt-J is a group that defies categorization.

Corky – Circulation

oneforthemoneyOne for the Money by Janet Evanovich, Fiction Evanovich

In 1994, Janet Evanovich came out with One for the Money, the first book in her Stephanie Plum series. Before that, she had been a romance writer and since I was involved with Romance Writers of America, my friends and I planned to go to a book signing at Anderson’s in Naperville and afterwards take Janet out to dinner. (We lucked out; her publisher, Harper Collins, picked up the tab.) During that dinner, I learned about what went into the making of this new series. Janet spent two years researching this book: drinking beer with law enforcement types, learning to shoot, and practicing cussing. At the end of those years, she created Stephanie Plum, the heroine of this book, not exactly biographical, but according to Janet, “You can take the girl out of Jersey, but you can’t take Jersey out of the girl.”Janet’s research must have paid off. Each year for the last 20 years her latest book is a New York Times best-seller. Why has the series been so successful? I think it’s the characters, who are quirky and funny. Stephanie Plum, an out of work lingerie buyer, is also out of money. In the opening pages of the book, her car is repoed and her refrigerator is empty. I love it when the heroine starts at rock bottom – I always try to guess what I would do in that situation. Duh, get a job. So Stephanie blackmails her bail bondsman cousin, Vinnie, into giving her a try as a bounty hunter. Her first job is to track down an accused murderer and a cop and bring him to the police station. She has absolutely no skills to do this job. One for the Money is witty, fresh, full of surprises, and makes me laugh out loud.

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