Staff Choices

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 Lucy S 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 SherriT 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 BARB W 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.
Posted by Uncle Will on 07/22/16
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Remember when a good script, great acting, strange settings, and a sound, musical score were the active ingredients to cooking-up a successful suspense-movie-thriller? Well, film director Atom Egoyan has once again prepared and presents his main course, Remember; a shrewdly slow-paced suspense film about long-awaited vengeance.
Remember stars Christopher Plummer (as Zev Guttman) and Martin Landau (as Max Rosenbaum) both Auschwitz survivors living present day in a nursing home. We learn that the 2 old men made a "pack" in the past. Zev agreed to find a former Nazi prison guard who killed his family. This guard has been living under an assumed name for 70 years in the USA. It appears that Max, who is wheelchair bound, is dependent on Zev doing all the "heavy lifting."
What follows is Zev going on a solo road-trip, with a deadly mission, that takes him all around the country and even to Canada. It's quite clear that Zev suffers from late-stages of Alzheimer’s. How he battles to keep focused on his mission is clever.
What's most clever about this film is the way that Egoyan keeps his audience's attention, when most all the action is led by an 88-year-old actor. It's like a scene in a zombie movie where the slow-footed zombie is attacking a human; all the while the suspense builds because of the anticipated attack. A super-fast zombie attacking is just not as suspenseful - the payoff comes much too quickly.
Not in this film. The payoff is slow and savoring.
Posted by Uncle Will on 07/09/16
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How would you like to live in a town that basically has just two rules? Those rules being: 1) one must have the means to earn a living and 2) one must live in a place that has a roof overhead. There's a fictional town in Norway, at the tip of the Artic Circle, called Fortitude and it's also the name of a UK TV series that stars Stanley Tucci and Michael Gambon.
Fortitude is the most northern city in the world. It claims to have no crime, because everyone living there is happy. Sounds like a nice place to live or visit. To attract more tourist is the primary the governor is trying to get investors to back an ice hotel construction project. All is proceeding nicely until something is found in the glacier that the hotel is to be built on that likely will jeopardize the chances for the building to ever reach completion.
A newcomer to the town is told that he must buy a warm hat with earflaps and purchase a rifle. The hat is to combat frostbitten ears. The rifle is combat all the polar bears that hunt this coastal town. Rifles are more prevalent in shopping carts than purses. We learn that once a polar bear attacks a human, that bear is eating the human. The bear isn't concerned with killing its prey, just devouring it. One gets the feeing that a rifle is a little more important than the hat with flaps.
The production is top-notch. The scenery is awesome. It's refreshing to watch brutal cold depicted on the screen when it's 90 degrees outside in reality. It might be cold outside in Fortitude, but the residents heat it up. Small towns are places where everyone knows everybody and their business. Dark days for half the year give way to a great deal of frolicking in Fortitude. The characters in this town are complex and believable. The actors playing these characters are so spot-on that not once did I think that I was watching actors.
Make no mistake. This is an adult TV series. What starts out as a dark, moody atmosphere, turns a lot brighter "red" by episode 9. Critics love this show.  An option for a 2nd season was picked-up and will soon be available at our library.
Posted by jonf on 06/30/16
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The newest in Max Allan Collins, Nathan Heller series, Nathan is a Chicago P.I. who is known as investigator to the stars. Heller is approached by Dashell Hammett to look into the trial of the Rosenbergs , who have been convicted of treason and are on death row.
Heller is also asked by Senator Joseph McCarthy and his lawyer Roy Cohn to look into the Rosenbergs and dig up any new dirt on Hammett and others. This book is well written and like all Heller novels is historical mystery, always a great mix of history and fiction, even Bettie Page has a nice role in this book, great fun.,
Posted by bpardue on 06/30/16
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This engaging book frames the history of 20th century architecture as a tug-of-war between two giants of the era: Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson. Wright was the genius, the relentless champion of his own philosophy of "organic architecture," who rejected any relationship with the boxy modernism of the Bauhaus architects and their followers, even as they acknowledged their debt to Wright (although more as a predecessor than meaningful contemporary). At the same time, it's tempting to think of his masterpiece Fallingwater as a thinly-veiled attempt to outdo the modernists at their own game. Johnson, on the other hand, was a born-wealthy dilettante, who moved between architecture criticism and practice, as well as politics, journalism and music, looking for a field in which to make his mark. He was an early champion of all things modern--the rejection of hand-crafted materials for industrial steel and glass, and the complete removal of ornamentation from buildings. His own Glass House (inspired by plans for Mies' Farnsworth House in Plano, IL) is considered a classic of the style. Over time, Wright's and Johnson's paths would cross many times, their relationship (and opinions of each other) would move from respectful to contentious and back again. Clearly, there was gamesmanship and moments of self-promotion from each man, but there were also moments of actual affection. Author Hugh Howard gives us a well-researched, sweeping view, covering nearly 50 years of architectural history with many supplementary characters to help illuminate the long, complex relationship between these two architectural giants.
Posted by SherriT on 06/28/16
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Seven. Seventeen. And five.

This is how Aubrey Hamilton separates the most important years of her life. The seven years before she met Joshua Hamilton, the seventeen years they were together and the five years since his disappearance from her life.

Over a bachelor/bachelorette party weekend, her husband, Josh, disappears.

After a frantic search, blood is discovered all over Josh and Aubrey's house and the cops decide on foul play. Aubrey is ultimately tried for his death, but found innocent. We pick up the story right as the State of Tennessee has declared Josh legally dead, even though his body has never been found. Aubrey thinks she can finally move on, put the questions and grief behind her and start anew. But the appearance of a mysterious man who reminds Aubrey of her dead husband, and the upcoming legal battle she's in for with her mother-in-law over Josh's massive life insurance policy, mean that Aubrey is very far from putting the past behind her.

If you are looking for a book with lots of twists and turns that continually keeps you guessing you will find it in No One Knows by J.T. Ellison.  It was one of those "one more chapter" books as I like to call them. You know...the ones where you promise yourself just one more chapter before putting it down and before you know it you are on the last page.

No One Knows is a thought-provoking thriller with a multi-layered plot, intriguing characters and numerous surprises. Similar to Gillian Flynn’s book Gone Girl, this book will have you shaking your head at its shocking ending.
Fiction, Suspense
Posted by jdunc on 06/27/16
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Singer/songwriter Brandy Clark’s newest release Big Day in a Small Town takes you on a journey through all of the nuances and cast of characters of living a small town life. Topics include “homecoming queen”, ‘girl next door” and ‘broke”, all sung with Clark’s wonderful grit and twang. She has a similar sound to Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves—which shouldn’t be a surprise since she has written hit songs for each.  Clark is just starting to get radio play in Chicago and is definitely worth checking out for country music fans.

Have a listen to “Three Kids No Husband”:
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