Staff Choices

Posted by Uncle Will on 08/24/16
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Looking for a new series to watch where there’s no swearing, no gratuitous, graphic sex, nor buckets upon buckets of blood and yet is witty, sexy, and violent? Try Season 1 of The Musketeers, the BBC updated version of Alexandre Dumas' classic novel The Three Musketeers.

All 3 of the musketeers have classically good looks. They all look great in leather, especially Porthos, who in this filmed version is half French, half African and not portrayed as the plump, drunken ox – which he so often is. Athos has deep dark secrets and is cast as the brains of the bunch and the best brooder. Aramis is pleasant on the eye and deviously charming.  D'Artagnan has great hair and thus never wears a hat. Cardinal Richelieu is shown to be his usual villainous self; however, his motivation is based less on greed and personal power than exercising his loyalty and vision for a future France. Liberties are taken in this adaptation. The psychopath, Rochefort, is not even introduced until Season 2.

What draws attention is that all of the female characters are not the typical Hollywood buxom bimbos. The casting is very good. Each actress comes across as the girl-next-door.  Even the Queen Anne character is beautifully flawed. But make no mistake, the femme fatal is the Milady D’Winter.  This is a great part and many actresses love the chance to play "the baddest dudette on the castle block."

Be warned. The first episode is the weakest of the lot. The introduction of all the main characters is like trying to put a size 10 foot in a pair of size 7 shoes. If you stick with this series, it gets better as all the characters grow.

Posted by lsears on 08/21/16
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Britt-Marie hasn’t spoken up for herself in decades, losing her self-esteem along the way. This is a sweet story of an older woman with rigid habits, uncomfortable in social situations, who can’t abide clutter, but grows to learn how to make decisions for herself. It is almost like a delayed “coming-of-age” tale. The writing style is simple, clear and depicts exactly what it might be like inside her mind. She returns to work after pestering an employment agency staffer into finding something for her even though it will be temporary. The inhabitants of a very small town, especially the children, grow to care for her and respect her and she begins to feel the same way for them.
 
My favorite quote from Britt-Marie Was Here can be found on page 262: That is the reason why passion is worth something, not for what it gives us but for what it demands that we risk. Fans of author Fredrik Backman’s other work, A Man Called Ove, will enjoy this story with a woman in the lead role.
 
 
Fiction
Posted by bpardue on 08/15/16
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From the late 60s to mid-70s, a number German rock bands created a musical/social movement that has subsequently (and somewhat unfortunately) become known as "Krautrock." Stylistically diverse, it ranged from the "kosmische" jams of Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel to the industrial explorations of early Cluster, the wild pastiche of Faust and the ever-more-automated stylings of Kraftwerk. There have been various attempts to cover the Krautrock scene in book form, most notably Julian Cope's Krautrocksampler​, but most have been personal impressions, discographies or article compilations. At last, music journalist David Stubbs has written the first "Great Big Book" on the topic: Future Days: Krautrock and the Birth of a Revolutionary New Music. Stubbs' well-researched tome covers the emergence of protest & commune culture in post-war Germany and touches on all the big-name bands/movements within Krautrock: Can, Kraftwerk, Neu!, HarmoniaFaust, the "Berlin School," etc., and even follows the music's influence on David Bowie, Brian Eno and more recent musicians. An excellent (if dense) read for fans of this unique and influential musical phenomenon. Readers may also enjoy Krautrock: Cosmic Rock and its Legacy. Quite a bit of the music mentioned in the two books can found in our catalog, as well as Hoopla Digital.
Posted by lbanovz on 08/11/16
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I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I have a weird fascination with art theft. Yes, you read that correctly. It seems I will devour any book that has even the smallest plot point centered around art thievery. Think Donna Tart’s 2013 smash hit, The Goldfinch, or The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. Art theft even found its way into this year’s blockbuster The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (which I also adored), and I didn’t even seek it out. The subject just seems to fall into my lap. So when I tell you that I purposefully stopped myself from breezing through The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, Dominic Smith’s newest title that centers around the theft of a painting, understand what a challenge it was for me.

Smith has beautifully crafted a story that is equal parts mystery and love story. The love story itself is not romantic in nature, but rather a tribute to a mother’s love and the love of art as a whole. Both the painting in question, titled “At the Edge of the Wood”, and the artist – Sara de Vos –  are fictitious, but Smith has borrowed pieces of the lives of real female masters from the Dutch Golden Age.

Nothing about the structure or plot is groundbreaking: we travel back and forth between 1950’s New York, 17th-century Amsterdam, and 21st-century Australia, with the painting and the haunting presence of Sara de Vos following us along the way. It’s the way Smith tells it, setting the atmosphere in lyrically beautiful detail, that makes you want to stop and savor each chapter as you creep closer and closer to the moment when everything is laid bare.

For fans of People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier.
Posted by jfreier on 08/04/16
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The newest Gabriel Allon thriller by Daniel Silva is another excellent thriller. On the eve Of Allon becoming Chief Of of Israeli Intelligence, he is summoned to France to help catch a terrorist who has exploded a massive bomb in Paris.
Gabriel and his team trace the attack to a beautiful French national of Syrian descent named Safia. Allon  enlists a brilliant woman  who is a French- Israeli doctor to infiltrate Isis, by becoming what they call a Black Widow.
 
The operation is thrilling as Nathalie is finally asked to go to Syria to meet the mastermind named Salladin. Silva wrote this book before the bombings in Paris and Brussels , so it is almost eerie reading it as fiction.
Posted by Uncle Will on 08/03/16
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A Perfect Day isn't like most other films. The story is a typical day-in-the-life for a team of aid workers in the Balkans (c.1995) who are trying removed a dead body from the drinking well of a small village near Bosnia. We learn early on that aid workers must be very careful not to do anything that would constitute them being a threat and then most likely killed. If they had a manual, Chapter One would definitely be entitled "Problem Solving 101."
This film quickly moves to "Advanced Problem Solving" and then onto "graduate studies" and beyond. IMDb lists the genre for this IFC (Independent Film Channel) as being a Comedy/Drama/War film; however, Oscar winner, Tim Robbins' character comes across as the film's lone, class clown. Oscar winner, Benicio Del Toro, is the team's proctor. He has the most sense and experience. Del Toro and Robbins are a formable pair who together have great timing and chemistry.

After watching, I couldn't help feeling honored that I was let into this film by the director. We take so much for granted in life. Most times it can't be helped just because of human nature. We try to make some sort of difference in our short lives. We hope we haven't wasted opportunities.

If you get the chance, checkout this bittersweet film. Don't miss the opportunity.

Posted by jdunc on 08/01/16
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If you’re looking for a light, fun read to add to your summer reading list, look no further than Nine Women, One Dress. It is the perfect pick for soaking up the last bits of summer at the pool or beach.

Debut author, Jane Rosen is witty and engaging as she seamlessly weaves nine separate stories around one black dress. Each story is neatly wrapped up with a satisfying ending by the conclusion of the book. Some stories include: a Bloomingdale sales women starting a relationship with a movie star, a private investigator, a recent college graduate who has created a fake life on social media, an aspiring model, and a middle aged secretary in love with her boss. All of their lives are changed for the better by this one black dress. The dress itself transcends age and culture to take on a character of its own. I loved it from start to finish.
Posted by lsears on 07/30/16
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An unspeakable tragedy happens to a family and community. A young boy, Dusty, is accidentally killed in a hunting accident by a neighbor. According to Landreaux Iron’s Native American traditions, if a child of another family dies from your actions, you will make amends by giving them a child of yours. He tells Dusty's parents, “Our son will be your son now . . . it’s the old way”. Except the year is 1999 and it is almost impossible to honor this custom. Yet they try. LaRose Iron, 5 years old, is given to Dusty’s family. Two families anguished by guilt and blame. How can one family give up their child and how can the other family accept?
 
The story is told in a multi-vocal manner by several characters; there are no quotation marks to indicate speech so the words flow as if they are thoughts. LaRose is an exceptional child, wise beyond his years, a healer, and is the conduit toward restitution and atonement.
 
I was fascinated by the main concept and how these ordinary people try to live their lives as best as they can. The topics are heavy yet leavened with hopefulness. I got a glimpse into a culture different from mine. I think that author Louise Erdrich, who shares both Native American and German heritage, interlaces the intricacies of relationships and issues fluidly.
 
The author is the narrator for the audiobook, read with a rich, clear voice.
 
Posted by Sltader on 07/26/16
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We all have secrets…

How well do you know your neighbors? Or rather, how well do you know your girlfriends?

The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen takes place in the perfect-seeming neighborhood of Newport Cove, and centers on a group of friends who seem to have it all: Kellie Scott, a former cheerleader who married her high school boyfriend - a football player, of course; her best friend Susan Barrett, who runs a very successful business coordinating services for the elderly; Gigi Kennedy, whose husband Joe is running for Congress in the Democratic primary; and the new neighbor Tessa Campbell, whose kids are just the right ages to be friends with the kids of the other mothers.

In a culture where it's common to see women tearing one another down over the pettiest things (she really needs to lose a few pounds; her boobs must be fake; she's likely a gold digger and that's why she's married to him), it was nice to read a novel about four women--all mothers--who had their own personal struggles but had the support of one another to get them through the rough patches that life lobbed at them.
 
Every story was interesting enough to stand on its own, but Sarah Pekkanen held them all together with impeccable pacing, character-development and plot. I related to all of the women in some way.

I used to watch a TV show that some people may remember called Desperate Housewives - and if you do remember it, you’ll know what I mean when I say that The Perfect Neighbors exudes Desperate Housewives vibes.
 
The Perfect Neighbors makes for an excellent poolside or summer read. A quick page-turner with an ending that ties everything up together nicely. This book is wrought with emotion and most importantly, female characters who care to lift one another up. Women's fiction at its best.
 
Chic Lit, Fiction
Posted by bweiner on 07/24/16
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Music has the ability to transport, entertain, educate and inspire, and if you are really lucky, all of these things will happen at once.

Check out The Color Purple (New Broadway Cast Recording (2016) on CD. This exceptional soundtrack is a fusion of jazz, ragtime, gospel and blues, and the impressive cast includes the spectacular Jennifer Hudson as Shug Avery, and a fearless performance by Cynthia Erivo as Celie.

Erivo was recently awarded the Tony for Best Actress in a Musical, and one listen will tell you why. If you know the story, Celie begins her journey with a small voice, barely able to articulate her needs to anyone but her sister, Nettie. Their voices lift you with the sweetness, spirit and innocence they collectively possess. We hear Celie gather strength as her resolve and determination grow.

Good music is an indulgence for the ears, but this CD takes it a step further by artfully articulating Alice Walker’s story of courage and triumph.
Want recommendations on what to read next? Email advisory@ahml.info and we will be happy to assist you in finding a great book to read.
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
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