Staff Choices

Posted by Uncle Will on 04/07/14
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Lillyhammer is not just another fish-outta-water-story. It is more like a whale-outta-puddle-tale. 
Steven Van Zandt stars in this comedy series about a New York mobster-turned-informant who enters the Witness Protection Program and requests the title town of Lillehammer, Norway as his future home. What transpires is a hard man's adjustment to the simple, cold life of an idyllic Norwegian town (population 27,000) and the townsfolk's adjustment to his self-entitled "American" ways.
American gangster, Frank Tagliano, only knows one way of living his life. He fell in love with a remote village while watching the 1994 Olympics, which were hosted in Norway. Frank knows that his only hope for survival, after ratting out his new boss, is selecting the last place on earth that his enemies would guess that he is hiding. What he doesn't realize is that the climate is mostly frigid; the people are cordial, but like sheep; and the customs and norms are alien to his past experience. The by-product is a clever situation comedy where the plot outcomes are usually foreseen, but the process is worth the time expended in watching.
"Little Steven" Van Zandt, if you are not a TV fan of The Sopranos, is also the lead guitarist with Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. This multitalented man even provides several soundtrack songs to his show. After checking out the first season, look for Season 2 to be in our catalog soon.
Posted by Kelley M on 04/02/14
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The story begins in 1912, when a Scottish, published poet named Elspeth Dunn, starts receiving fan mail from a young American named David Graham. Elspeth has a phobia for traveling & has been on the island of Skye almost her entire life. Through the continued correspondence of Elspeth & David, their fondness for each other grows. Elspeth, however, is married to a sailor/soldier. Will this alter a future for Elspeth & David?

We learn that Elspeth has a daughter & through her daughter’s letters, we learn more about Elspeth’s life. We find out that there is one lost letter that remains to help Margaret, Elspeth’s daughter, find out the truth about what happened to her family & her mother.

David goes off to France to drive ambulances during the war, to avoid the career his father demands. David’s storyline in France helps give a good framework for the letters & also helps us see what an impact war had on every day individuals like this. By telling the story through letters, you feel like you’re peeking into real peoples’ lives. The audio book version is delightful. It gives you a real feel for the characters. The author, Jessica Brockmole, describes historical aspects in delicious detail, helping transport the reader to that time.

If you liked The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society, you might want to give this read a try.

Posted by jkadus on 03/31/14
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April signals the start not only of MLB, but also the start of the Cubs/White Sox rivalry.  No matter which team you favor, we've got plenty of material to keep you occupied between games.  Play Ball!

Posted by jdunc on 03/28/14
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Listening to Bridget Jones Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding is like a visit from a completely irrational, but insanely hilarious old friend. In some ways, Bridget is the same Bridge we met almost 20 years ago------ drinking too many units of wine and clueless about the dating world, but with the added stresses of understanding Twitter, adjusting to being a single mum to two young kids, and dealing with the death of her husband, the much loved Mark Darcy.

The audio is read by Samantha Bond, perhaps better known as Rosamund Painswick of Downton Abbey. As I listened, I could picture Bridget obsessively checking for new “twitterati” and the complete chaos of her home. She has much needed support from her  friends, Tom, Jude, Talitha, and Daniel Cleaver. Bond does wonderful voices of all the characters, especially 6-year-old Mabel (lisp included) and 30-year-old boy toy, Roxster.  Bond's ability to capture Bridget’s hurt and loneliness at losing her husband made me tear up, but in true Bridget style I was laughing again by the next diary entry. As a Bridget Jones fan I really enjoyed this book and revisiting her life 20 years later. It was comforting to see Bridget is the same neurotic, obsessive, lovable woman we met so long ago. The audio was so much fun to listen to and I enjoyed every bit of it.
Posted by annetteb on 03/27/14
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If you thought being green wasn’t easy, wait till you meet Blue!
Based on Butler University’s live mascot, Blue, this cute canine perspective showcases the life and responsibilities of being a university mascot. This story is particularly engaging for children, animal lovers, Butler fans, and alumnae. Packed with delightful illustrations by Jingo M. De La Rosa and lighthearted text by Blue’s owner, Michael Kaltenmark, this heartwarming story about learning to be a “good boy” and knowing right from wrong is a real treat.
Enjoy Blue’s first day on the job and an artful campus tour, as he does everything he can to hear his favorite words: “Good boy, Blue!
Posted by Trixie on 03/24/14
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I like to think that he saw me, the loosened ends of my long bandages and the wispy tangled curls of my hair reaching out to the wind, the skirt of my nightgown billowing in the melodic waves. I like to think that he watched as I climbed over the side of the rickety widow’s walk, my toes perched on the ledge, my fingers clasped lightly to the railing behind me. Perhaps he noted, with quiet irony, that never before had anyone more resembled an angel. I like to think that he marveled at the mass of bandages that unraveled completely and tumbled to the ground, and at the pair of pure white wings, large and strong, that unfolded from my shoulder blades.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is about love: unrequited and impossible, elation, loss, and suffering; in the midst of it, a girl is born with wings. First, readers follow the relentless suffering of Ava's immigrant family over the course of three generations. This chronicle culminates in her birth. Set in 1950s Seattle, Ava's mother and grandmother shelter winged Ava from the community in order to protect her. However, as any blossoming teen, Ava longs to fit in with her peers. In this novel, Leslye Walton writes about a teenage girl's exploration of self and her place in an unexplored world.  
I absolutely LOVED this book! It’s beautifully written with incredible imagery. I felt as if I opened the book and walked right into the scenes described. Walton delivers a rich and full story that provides the context for Ava's plight; she weaves together stories across generations à la Marquez. I also adored the characters and was invested in their outcome. I liked the dark, traditional fairy tale/fable feel of the novel - sobbed at the end of it, but strangely hopeful and satisfied despite tragedy. If you like magical realism or emotional stories, this is a must read!
Posted by jfreier on 03/20/14
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 The first day of class at Northwestern University's Medill school of journalism and three brilliant students are chosen for a special class investigating cold case files.
 The enigmatic Jake, Sarah and Ian are tasked by professor Z to look into past files, but Jake already has one chosen, he has had a cryptic message sent to him leading the three to a case, but the problem is the killer is already dead.
 The three are drawn into a case where another body turns up and interest in the three becomes a dangerous game where trust is tested, and police corruption and deception leads to the students being the hunted. A fast, intriguing new book by Chicago author Michael Harvey who wrote the Chicago Way and 3 other in the Michael Kelly series.
Posted by bweiner on 03/19/14
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In The Sun and other Stars, author Brigid Pasulka crafts a story of family and community that will captivate you with an easy sense of familiarity. Pasulka, an English teacher in Chicago, understands and embraces the familial conflicts and intergenerational obligations that shape our personal growth. She has lived in Russia, Germany, Italy, and Poland, where she went in search of her own heritage.
In this story, twenty-two year old Etto is in unfathomable grief after losing his mother and twin brother. His deepening isolation creates a rift between him and his father as he struggles to repair his broken life. He meets two people who help him rekindle his desire to live, and Italy's favorite pastime, soccer,  becomes a  source of salvation for him.
Brigid Pasulka pens stories of genuine people we can relate to. Love, loss, family, friendship, and community dominate her themes. She writes from the heart, and she will touch your heart with her words. After you read this, check out her first novel, A Long, Long, Time Ago and Essentially True, another tour de force of multi-generational magic.
Posted by dnapravn on 03/11/14
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Right before the first of the year I stumbled across an interview with two-term poet laureate of the United States, Billy Collins. In it he referred to poetry as "the spinach of literature". I found that quote to be interesting, funny, and, at least for me, entirely true. Spinach is good for you and is also an acquired taste. If I had a choice between spinach and ice cream, I would choose ice cream even though spinach is the better choice. So, in addition to the usual promises one makes at the new year, I decided to make one of my New Year's resolutions to read more spinach, or should I say, poetry.
I felt I owed it to Mr. Collins to start with one of his collections. He was after all my motivation. I chose his newest book, Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems. Aimless Love combines over fifty new poems with selections from four of his previous books. And not only did I read it, but I also listened to him read in on audio CD. It did not disappoint. Ranging from serious to laugh out loud funny his poems are about everyday life and cover a range of emotions. I found them to be conversational and reader friendly.
How are you doing on your New Year's resolutions? It's not too late to add one more. I suggest that you too read your spinach!
Posted by crossin on 03/04/14
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It’s always fun to watch a movie and see a neighborhood you’ve lived in or a building you’ve visited. It’s even more fun to recognize geographical goofs—like when Harry and Sally leave from Hyde Park for New York, but are shown driving south on Lake Shore Drive through the City. Hundreds of movies have been filmed in Chicagoland; here’s a list of some of the best, according to Chicago Magazine.
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