Staff Choices

Posted by Pam I am on 12/24/13
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My list of "Top 5 Books" represents my varied taste in fiction.  All of these books kept me hooked from cover to cover for different reasons.
 
#5:  Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
This book could be classified as a love story, but it is actually so much more.  There is a depth to the characters and Jojo Moyes addresses deep issues.  This book had me laughing and crying.
 
#4:  And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
I anticipated the release of  And The Mountains Echoed  after loving Hosseini's previous novels The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.  Once again, Hosseini transports the reader to Afghanistan through decades of conflict.  But, deeper stories of family, betrayal and love are woven into a multi-generational tale.
 
#3:  Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Alice Howland is diagnosed with early-onset alzheimer's disease at age 50.  Still Alice ingeniously details her descent into her disease told from Alice's point of view. 
 
#2:  Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
The lives of two teenagers, both named Will Grayson, intersect through random coincidence.  This book is told from alternating "Will Grayson" points of view.  Ultimately a story of love and friendship with tons of humor mixed in.
 
#1:  Where'd You go Bernadette by Maria Semple
Hysterically funny, but also insightful and moving.  This book made me want to be friends with Bernadette.
 
Posted by annetteb on 12/23/13
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If you're a fan of sidesplitting tales, here's the best 2013 has to offer from our own collection!
 
#5 – Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores, by Jen Campbell
Questions and quotes overheard in the world of bookstore retail.
 
#4 – Texts from Dog II: The Dog Delusion, by October Jones
If you give your dog an iPhone…you’ll have some crazy conversations!
 
#3 – Star Wars: Vader’s Little Princess, by Jeffrey Brown
Highlights from Darth Vader’s career as a parent to little Leia.
 
#2 – My Dog: The Paradox: A Lovable Discourse about Man's Best Friend, by Matthew Inman
A retrospective comic, toasting the lives and quirks of our furry friends.
 

#1 – Diary of Edward Hamster 1990-1990, by Meriam Elia & Ezra Elia
The hilariously existential musings of a short-lived rodent.

 
Posted by Uncle Will on 12/23/13
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The following are the top 5 books I read this year:
 
#5 - Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen
Hopefully, the start of a new Florida series book by one of the masters of the witty mystery.
 
#4 - Wisp of a Thing by Alex Bledsoe
Sequel to The Hum and the Shiver does not disappoint.
 
#3 - NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
Stephen King's son's imagination and writing style pick up where his old man's left off.
 
#2 - The Fire Witness by Lars Kepler
Third book in series by Scandinavian couple featuring Sweden's modern day version of Sherlock Holmes - Investigator Joona Linna.
 
#1 - Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
New York Times best selling mystery author's first stand-alone novel about loss and redemption.
 
Posted by crossin on 12/23/13
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First, I should qualify this list…these are the top 5 DVDs that I watched with my tween daughter this year. It’s hard to find DVDs that I’d enjoy and are also appropriate for her. She’s too old for Disney princesses, and I’d rather have a root canal than sit through an episode of Austin & Ally. She and I discussed the project at hand and agreed on the following selections (the ranking is mine).
 
Snow White, Prince Charming, an evil queen…sounds like Disney? Oh no, far from it—this TV show is a fairy tale on steroids. (TV-PG)
 
#4 - Skyfall
After seeing a commercial for this movie, my daughter said, “James Bond dies—he jumps off a bridge.” Clearly, she needed some schooling. I introduced her to 007 with The Spy Who Loved Me, but she said she liked Skyfall more—maybe because it’s not dated, and she already knew the theme song. (PG-13)
 
#3 - Flipped
This he-said, she-said story of young love, based on the novel by Wendelin Van Draanen, made us laugh and cry. (PG)
 
My daughter loves magic and intrigue, and this film did not disappoint. A team of illusionists pulls off a series of heists in this fast-moving, twist-filled thriller. (PG-13)
 
I’ll admit it, I think I enjoyed this movie as much as my daughter did. In it, college students vie for the a cappella championship with songs from my teen years. This movie is smart, snarky, touching and has a great soundtrack. It’s this generation’s John Hughes movie. (PG-13)
 
 
Posted by mothic on 12/22/13
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It always seems that princesses, whether they are the Disney or the Buckingham palace versions, have enviable lives. They live in palaces, have beautiful wardrobes, and marry handsome princes. But in Linda Rodriguez McRobbie’s book, Princesses Behaving Badly, we get a fascinating peek behind the magical curtain and learn that not all princesses live fairy tale lives.
 
McRobbie takes us from the fifth century Black Sea to current day Great Britain telling quick three to four page stories of princesses who are everything from pirates to bank robbers. These short stories are an enticing introduction to princess lore. Each story provides a tidbit of information that leaves you wanting more.
 

Overall I enjoyed the stories and think that both teens and adults will be entertained by this book. It is a fine introduction to the real life stories of princesses throughout history.

 
Posted by bpardue on 12/19/13
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Has anyone changed a sport the way Bobby Orr changed hockey?
 
With his end-to-end skating and puck handling, he redefined what a defenseman could be. I first learned of Orr when he was featured in a 1970 Boy's Life magazine cover story. I was immediately a fan, despite living at the Jersey shore (on the border between Rangers/Flyers territory) and not even being much of a hockey follower. I'd patiently wait for the Bruins to be shown on TV and listen at night on my transistor radio to WBZ to hear their games. I was ecstatic when they won the '72 Stanley Cup and crestfallen when they were beaten by the upstart Flyers in '74. Sure, I liked the team, but it was really all about Orr for me. He was the complete athletic package--skill and integrity rolled into one, just the kind of guy who should be on the cover of Boy's Life.
 
43 years later, Orr has finally (and after some reluctance) put out his autobiography, and it's just what an Orr fan wants--an overview of his life in Parry Sound, ON, some stories about his time in junior hockey and signing into the Bruins' minor league organization (he got $1,000 and his parents got their house stuccoed), all leading up to his stunning--but all-too-short--career with the Bruins and (in case you forgot), the Blackhawks. Orr mostly keeps things positive--he cites his role models and influences, and has high praise for his teammates. This isn't a tell-all book, although he does have a chapter set aside to cover his thoughts about his ill-fated relationship with his now-disgraced former agent, Alan Eagleson. Even there, he shoulders the blame, saying he didn't take enough responsibility for his own finances. Orr also has sage words for aspiring young hockey players and reflections on the current state of the game, including some suggested rule tweaks.
 
Orr's writing is solid, and straightforward--his favorite phrase seems to be "and let me tell you..."--so the book is a quick read. If you're an Orr fan or a hockey fan in general, this is time well-spent.  If you don't know about Orr, then maybe this will help you appreciate him a bit:
 
 
Posted by bweiner on 12/18/13
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Home (2012) , by Nobel and Pulitzer prize-winning author Toni Morrison, is a perfect book to read this holiday season.
This is a story of survival, and we follow veteran Frank Money in his efforts to adjust to civilian life as he returns home following the Korean War. He wrestles with his demons inside and the forces of society that threaten to diminish his safety and security. Frank is a man looking for his identity in an unforgiving world filled with prejudice and misconceptions. Everything changes as he is compelled to help his sister Cee survive her own desperate ordeal. In order to help her heal, they must return to the small, racist town in Georgia they called "home".
 
Toni Morrison is known for her deep,complex prose, but in this novel she uses her beautiful words sparingly to create a major impact. Above all, there is hope and redemption, and the belief that people can rise to their challenges and emerge triumphant. Inspire yourself this holiday season with a story by a true American classic, Toni Morrison.
 
Posted by jfreier on 12/17/13
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Blue Heaven is a fast-paced thriller by C.J. Box and is a stand-alone from his Joe Pickett series. Annie and William, a 12 and 10 year-old sister and brother, leave their house to go fishing after a fight with their Mom over her low-life boyfriend. Sadly for them, they witness four men murder someone and are spotted by one of the killers.  Their nightmare begins.
 
The two, led by a determined and strong Annie, evade the killers and find refuge at a loner ranchers' home.  The rancher, Jess Rawlins, is having his own problems and he provides a safe haven for them and also wants to find out who the killers are. It turns out that the men are retired cops from L.A. who are bound together by a large robbery they pulled off in L.A. and not even two children are safe from them.
 
This is a suspenseful and fast paced-mystery and it reminds me of the classic movie Night of the Hunter.  It has a great setting and Annie and Jess are well developed characters and the bad guys are really bad.
Mystery
Posted by Ultra Violet on 12/16/13
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William Bellman has always lived a charmed life. He is handsome, intelligent, strong and energetic.Even though he didn't know his father, who left William and his mother when he was small, he isn't resentful. He shares a close relationship with his sweet mother and is close with his cousin. He seems to get whatever he wants with minimal effort, every task is easy to him, he makes friends quickly with people from all social spheres and he has no problem attracting the attentions of beautiful women. He isn't spoiled by all of this good fortune. He works hard and loves accomplishing things.
 
The only blemish on his gilded life is an incident in his childhood. He and his friends were playing with their sling-shots and through a seemingly-miraculous shot, William strikes and kills a raven. The boys are amazed by the feat and go to see the gorgeous bird. Their awe is soon replaced with the macabre playfulness of young boys as they flap the lifeless wings and taunt each other. Will is unsettled. However, he quickly forgets the entire affair. He forgets it so completely that he barely notices how black birds haunt his dreams, and crows and ravens seem to appear out of nowhere whenever he loses someone dear.
 
William Bellman's perfect life starts to unravel as his begins to be visited by the mysterious Mr. Black. But Black may be just what Bellman needs.
 
A mysterious and beautifully descriptive homage to the spirit of the raven, told through a suitable moody Victorian tale.
Posted by bpardue on 12/16/13
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Plank is one of those people you've never heard of, but whose influence is everywhere. He's best known as the producer/engineer for many classic "krautrock" bands in '70s Germany (Kraftwerk, Neu!, Cluster, etc.), but also worked on albums by Eurythmics, Devo and Ultravox. Brian Eno approached Plank to produce U2, but Plank decided he couldn't work with Bono and turned the project down. CDs 1-2 are a nice sampler of his production/engineering work (although it's a shame that Kraftwerk and a few other bands aren't included). CD 3 has some poorly-recorded but ultimately compelling live material with collaborators Dieter Moebius (of Cluster) and Arno Steffan. CD 4 is remixes/reworks, a few of which work well (especially "Broken Head"), the rest of which are pretty forgettable. There's also a booklet with plenty of details about Plank's life and reminiscences from musicians he worked with. Interested in more background on "krautrock?" Check out the book Krautrock: Cosmic Rock and Its Legacy, or view this brief documentary about an event in appreciation of Plank at the Goethe Institut in London, in October 2013:
 
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