Staff Choices

Posted by bpardue on 12/27/13
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If it's December, it's list-making time!  Here are some of the cool things I found through the library in 2013.   Some are from this year, some I was a little slower in getting to, but they were all 2013 experiences for me.  Although they're 5 through 1, I honestly feel I could have put them in almost any order.  Enjoy!
 
5) Mental Floss magazine (also available online through Zinio)
A bi-monthly overview of popular culture, trends and just plain odd stuff.  It's the kind of magazine where you spend a couple of hours just hopping around, absorbing tidbits here and there.
 
4) Orr: My Story by Bobby Orr
Orr was my childhood sports hero, a blend of seemingly superhuman talent and genuine humility. At long last he's written an autobiography. It's respectful (no tell-all scandals here!), straightforward and a pretty darn good read--just what you'd expect, I guess.
 
3) Just to Feel Anything by Emeralds
Blissfully spaced-out music.  Lots of pulsing synthesizers, fuzzed guitars and a general sense of floating through the universe. The kind of album Tangerine Dream has refused to make since 1977.
 
2) You Were Never in Chicago by Neil Steinberg
Not quite a history nor a memoir, this is Sun-Times columnist Steinberg's exploration of what it means to be "a Chicagoan" and what it means to have the job of covering the city for a living. Along the way, Steinberg gives lots of interesting glimpses into otherwise unnoticed people and places and demonstrates a true love for his adopted home.
 
The late Conny Plank was a critical figure in the 70s "krautrock" scene, having worked as a producer/collaborator with bands like Kraftwerk, Neu! and Cluster.  He later went on to work with new wave bands like Ultravox, Devo and Eurythmics.  This 4-CD set gives a broad sampling of his studio work (with some unfortunate omissions), some great live recordings and handful of moderately successful recent remixes.
 
Posted by dnapravn on 12/26/13
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I have read some wonderful books this year. Listed below are my top five fictional choices of 2013. Happy New Year!
 
#5 - The Dinner by Herman Koch
A dark novel showing how far people are sometimes willing to go to protect the ones they love. Two couples meet at a restaurant in Amsterdam for dinner and conversation. As the meal progresses tension builds. We learn of their fifteen-year-old sons and come to the realization that much is being left unsaid.
 
#4 - The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
This updated version of a classic folktale takes place in the Alaskan wilderness. A childless couple makes a girl out of snow only to glimpse a real girl playing among the trees the next morning. This is a magical story that pulled at my heartstrings.
 
#3 - The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
This page-turner told by a less than reliable narrator takes place during the Prohibition era. Rose, a straight-laced typist for a New York police precinct falls under the spell of new girl, Odalie, and finds both her life and her version of the truth spinning out of control.
 
#2 - The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
This is a feel good story of a brilliant but socially awkward professor of genetics and his plan to find a wife. When he meets bartender, Rosie, he knows without a doubt that she is not what he is looking for. A touching romantic comedy that I would love to see made into a movie.
 
#1 - Benediction by Kent Haruf
A poignant novel written in Haruf's lyrical style, Benediction is the story of a man nearing the end of his life and the family and community that rally around him. This is a beautiful reflection on a man's life and my top choice for 2013.
Posted by Trixie on 12/25/13
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Looking for a good book to keep you company while waiting to ring in the new year? Here's my top five for 2013 - all are great picks for teens and adults. Enjoy a cup of hot cocoa while you snuggle up with any of these reads! 
 
Set in a world where dragons and humans live in harmony, Serphina finds herself in the middle of a mystery that threatens their coexistence. It starts out kind of slow, but persevere. It’s well worth it!
 
In Sussex, England, a middle-aged man returns to the town that he grew up in and is flooded by dark and mysterious memories from his childhood. Beautifully written and a magical, fantastical story - love Neil Gaiman and LOVED this book!
 
Juxtaposing the lives and backgrounds of silent movie star Louise Brooks and Cora Carlisle, her chaperone on a trip from Wichita to New York, it examines the characters' sense of self - how their experiences and actions shaped their outcome. Well written and researched, I highly recommend it!
 
This book explores the tension between new technology and old, digital versus print, working out a problem longhand instead of relying on computer assistance. Clay, his friends, and Google through employee Kat try to help Mr. Penumbra solve an age-old mystery using modern technology. This is a quick read, definitely worth checking out…AND the cover glows in the dark!
 
An expressive novel set during World War II, Verity a secret agent is captured by the Gestapo and “convinced” to reveal her mission. As her intricate story unfolds, readers are left to wonder whether her detailed confession will be enough to save her life. Wein weaves a beautiful tale of desperation, courage, and friendship. The novel is written in journal-style from Verity’s and her pilot friend Kittyhawk’s points of view. Through these characters’ perilous journeys, readers experience the heartache and anxiety of friends and family separated during wartime.
 
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-resigned 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.
 
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