Staff Choices

Posted by jfreier on 06/14/13
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Damascus Countdown is the author's sequel to Tehran Initiative featuring covert op David Shirazi an American-born Iranian as deep cover op stationed in Iran.
 
In this sequel, David is contacted by his handlers to deal with a crisis started by an Iranian leader who has proclaimed himself to be the Twelfth Imam and is planning to use his six nuclear bombs to destroy Israel and start the end times. Israeli security forces get wind of the plans and strike Iranian sites destroying all their sites.  But, two warheads are saved and headed to Damascus to be launched at Israel, and it's up to Sharazi to stop the attack.  This is a timely and fast-paced thriller.
Posted by dnapravn on 06/13/13
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I’ve been a fan of Kent Haruf’s novels since Plainsong came out in 1999. His newest novel, Benediction, is written in his sparse, hauntingly beautiful style and does not disappoint.
 
Like his other novels, Benediction is set on the high plains of eastern Colorado in the fictional town of Holt. Seventy-seven year old hardware store owner “Dad” Lewis has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. As his wife, Mary, and daughter, Lorraine, work to make his last days as comfortable as possible, we become witness to what Dad treasures most in life. We learn of his secrets as well as meet the members of his community who rally around both Dad and his family.
 
This is a beautifully written book about a man’s last days. Beyond that though, it is a book about love and regret and the ties that bind us together. If you have never read a Kent Haruf novel, I urge you to give one a try.
 
Posted by rkong on 06/12/13
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Well, Chicago is once again abuzz with the prospect of another major sports championship, and I find myself looking back on our past champions. I just finished Phil Jackson’s recently published memoir, Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success, and I highly recommend it for anyone who witnessed the Jordan years and Jackson’s six championships with the Chicago Bulls.
 
Phil (we’re all on first name basis with him, right?) goes into great detail about his upbringing as the son of two ministers in Montana and also his own NBA playing career with the Knicks. But the best parts are when he discusses applying a number of psychological and spiritual approaches to the locker room dynamics of those Bulls teams. Anyone who has ever played or coached a sport will appreciate the challenges Phil faced with bringing Michael, Scottie, and other players together as one unit. Highlights include the time Michael fought Steve Kerr, not exactly the toughest guy on that team, during a heated practice and the way Phil handled the enigma that is Dennis Rodman.

Give Eleven Rings a chance if you’re a sports fan or even interested in leadership, psychology, or spirituality. And, yes, it is perfectly permissible and expected for Chicago fans to skip over the sections Phil talks about his time with Kobe, Shaq, and the rest of the Lakers. We all know his best years were with Chicago!
Posted by Pam I am on 06/02/13
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It has been six years since the release of Khaled Hosseini's best sellers A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) and The Kite Runner (2003) and many fans, including myself, have awaited his next novel.  Hosseini's new release, And the Mountains Echoed is a compelling story about love, loss, family and acceptance. I confess that I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. engrossed in this epic novel that spans generations and countries from Afghanistan to the United States.
 
The book unfolds in a way that feels like a variety of short stories with multiple characters. At times it can be a little confusing, but in the end the author weaves all the different stories together. In this clip, Khaled Hosseini talks about the many themes of the novel and his inspiration for writing the book.
 
This book will make you think about how a single act or event can reverberate or "echo" for generations to come. If you have read Hosseini's previous books or you are looking for a new thought-provoking novel, this is a great choice.
 
Posted by crossin on 05/29/13
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I've been selecting movies for libraries for a good part of my life. I've seen video formats come and go, and sometimes cringe a bit when new technology is introduced (does anyone out there still use Laserdiscs?). Back when Blu-ray and HD-DVD were battling for the market share, I didn't think either one would last more than a year or two - who would buy into these when downloadable media was poised to take over? Clearly, I was wrong. In the past two years, Blu-ray checkouts at AHML have nearly tripled. There are still some library users who ask if a Blu-ray will play in their regular DVD player, but clearly many have adopted high-def.
 
The latest and greatest, 3-D Blu-rays, hit the market a few years ago, and library users immediately started asking when AHML would be getting them. Back then, there were only a handful of 3-D Blu-rays available; even today very few films are released on 3-D Blu-ray. Even so, AHML currently has more than 60 movies available on 3-D Blu-ray. If you haven't upgraded to 3-D, no worries, these also include a standard Blu-ray.
Blu-ray
Posted by Uncle Will on 05/29/13
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What do Michael Jordan, Ryne Sandberg, Lebron James, Devin Hester, Don Mattingly, David Beckham, and John Sandford's newest Prey series book all have in common? The number 23!
 
Silken Prey is the 23rd novel in this long-standing mystery series. And it is a doozy. Davenport might have met his match in the form of a ruthlessly rich female politician who has the moral standards of Cleopatra. Her name is Taryn Grant and she wants to be the next senator from the great state of Minnesota. Taryn and her security team - comprised of a couple of ex-Black Ops assassins, make formidable foes for Davenport. They devise a pathological scheme to defraud the incumbent senator - hoping to turn the election polls in their favor. Nothing can hurt a campaign more than the accusation that ones opponent is a child pornographer. Taryn's team will stop at nothing to win the senate seat. Multiple murders is an occupational hazard. 
 
There is nothing haphazard to Davenport's investigation. He is well aware that the arena the governor asks him to enter could be a career-breaker. He knows that politics is a dirty game and up until now, Davenport has only dressed for the games and sat on the sidelines. This time around he is put into the line-up and it's winner take all. 
 
Davenport groupies will not be disappointed. He flirts with both danger and femme fatales effortlessly. He even gets to the Mall of America a couple of times to make sure that he is dressed appropriately.
Mystery, Suspense
Posted by bpardue on 05/24/13
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I'd like to see these guys live. In a planetarium. With lasers. Simply put, the trio Emeralds' 2012 album, Just to Feel Anything, hearkens back to the days when synthesizer music was spacey and expansive. It's kind of like the album Tangerine Dream has refused to make since the early 80s. The seven instrumental pieces have ghostly soundscapes, pulsing sequencers and drum machines, fuzzed-out guitar solos, the whole package. To me, "Everything Is Inverted" is the standout cut. To be fair, "Through & Through" and "Search for Me in the Wasteland" are more guitar-centric and almost hummable, but mostly, this is a put-on-the-headphones-and-turn-on-the-Lava-Lamp kind of collection that just carries you away into the Milky Way...
Posted by Ultra Violet on 05/24/13
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It's the last part of the 19th Century, and an evil Jewish mystic creates an incomparable golem who ends up lost and alone in New York City. Blending in to the human population is hard enough for Chava, but getting involved with Ahmad, a Jinni who has been cruelly trapped in human form thousands of years ago, causes even more complications. Their uneasy alliance stems from their shared situations, but their natures are so far from each other that they are constantly butting heads.When Chava's creator comes to America, Ahmad and Chava must fight for their lives and try and outwit a mastermind with no conscience.
 
The Golem and the Jinni is a fun, fast read with great details of 19th century New York, particularly the Jewish and Syrian neighborhoods and lifestyles. The Jewish tradition of the golem and the Middle Eastern stories of the jinni add a delightful twist.
Posted by joecollier_resigned on 05/20/13
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I’ll admit it—I read a lot of comic books when I was a kid. As I grew up and older, reading comics regularly faded from my lifestyle, but my love of comics—and for the medium itself—never did. So imagine how sweet it is that now, as a librarian, it’s actually part of my job. But I’m not just reading them for myself—I’m also reading them so I can share them with you!

However, these ain’t your momma’s comics. The medium we’re all now familiar with as the “graphic novel” may have started out as simply longer versions of comic books, but over the past few decades it has adapted, evolved, and been reborn into its own singular experience, with as many different styles and perspectives as you can imagine. There’s something about the interaction between illustrations and text that’s bigger than the sum of its parts—when all the elements of a great graphic novel come together properly, the result is a reading experience truly unlike any other—it combines the best aspects of watching a movie and reading a book and draws you into the story in ways that neither a book nor a movie can.
 
Subsequently, subject matter for graphic novels has by now ranged far afield of superheroes. And our collection here at AHML is loaded with amazing titles covering an array of topics that just might surprise you. For example, if you like the Beatles, you might want to check out Baby’s in Black by Arne Bellstorf. Drawn in a relatively simple line style (reminiscent of a New Yorker cartoon), it tells the story of the Beatles’ early days in Hamburg, centered on the love story between the “fifth Beatle,” Stuart Sutcliffe, and photographer Astrid Kirchherr. Another excellent and provocative title is The Voyeurs. It’s a real-time memoir of a turbulent four years in the life of renowned cartoonist, diarist, and filmmaker Gabrielle Bell (featuring a cameo appearance by her then-boyfriend, director Michael Gondry of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame). Accounts of her daily life may sound like boring reading, but Bell manages to take the mundane and make it absorbing and thoughtful. My final suggestion is Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea. In early 2001 cartoonist Delisle lived in the North Korean capital for two months on a work visa, and observed what he was allowed to see of the culture and lives of the few North Koreans he encountered—his findings form the basis of this graphic novel. Truly fascinating, more than a little bit funny, and slightly tragic.
 

Break out of your normal routine and give a graphic novel a chance this summer!

 
Posted by jfreier on 05/16/13
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The newest by book by William Kent Krueger is a departure from his Cork O'Connor mystery series. This book, although listed as a mystery with elements of that genre, is more of a literary coming-of-age story set in small town New Bremen, Minnesota told through the eyes of thirteen year old Frank Drum.
 
The story, set in the summer of 1961, is filled with love, death, murder, relationships, the power of family and friends, and the power of grace. It's a beautifully written novel by an author who gets better with each book.

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