Staff Choices

Posted by meyoung on 12/22/15
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Margaret Atwood does it again in this interesting sociological experiment of a book. Set in the near future, we first meet Stan and Charmaine down on their luck. Stan has lost his job and the couple had to sell their house. While living in their car, Charmaine is attempting to keep things together by working odd hours at a seedy bar where she first sees a commercial that promises an experience that will lower the unemployment rate and promises a comfortable life – to come and live at Consilience. If selected, the applicants are guaranteed a steady job, a home, transportation, and the life they’ve been missing out on.
There’s a catch. There’s always a catch. In order to sustain the society at Consilience, every other month will be spent in a prison while your “Alternates” live in your home. Everything seems to be going according to plan. Charmaine and Stan both have jobs that fit their skill set, both earn money, both have adequate transportation, both contribute to the prison life, and both are happy – for the most part. When both Charmaine and Stan become independently obsessed with their Alternates, things start to spiral.
With an Atwood book you really can’t go wrong.
Posted by bpardue on 12/18/15
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Jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty has built up an impressive discography. Now, he shows up on two very different collaborations. First, he teams up with former Yes vocalist Jon Anderson and a formidable group of session musicians to create the Kickstarter-funded Better Late Than Never. Ponty and Anderson contrubute a number of newly-composed songs, such as "One in the Rhythm of Hope," and there are a number of reworkings of Yes tunes ("And You And I," "Roundabout," etc.) and Ponty songs with added vocals ("Infinite Mirage--Soul Eternal"). Overall, the proceedings are more rock/fusion than jazz and are a nice listen for fans of either musician.
For the more jazz-minded fan, Ponty has also collaborated with legendary bassist Stanley Clarke and French guitarist Bireli Lagrene for the album D-Sringz. The album feels like a more modern version of Stephane Grappelli's and Django Reinhardts' Hot Club performances--everything swings and there are some fantastic takes on classics, such as Reinhardt's "Nuages" and Joe Zawinul's "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" (most famously recorded by both Cannonball Adderly and The Buckinghams). The album is also available in hoopla.
Posted by BARB W on 12/18/15
Enter the world of surrealist Swiss artist H.R. Giger in the 2014 film, Dark Star: H.R. Giger's World. This work is a classic case of life imitating art, as his world on canvas is eerily similar to the one he inhabits.

I first became familiar with these mesmerizing works through some cover art that Giger did for Emerson, Lake and Palmer, a progressive rock group popular in the 1970’s. In the 1979 science fiction blockbuster film Alien, and the subsequent Alien films, we once again witness the far-reaching vision of Giger. The creature, the ship, and the entire landscape were developed from his visionary soul.

The story traces his life from early childhood and illuminates the inspiration and motivation that power his art. Images come to him in dreams, all related to his obsessions with birth, death and the feminine form. Giger passed away in 2014, but we are lucky that his work is on permanent display at the H.R. Giger Museum at Gruyères in Switzerland. And we are lucky indeed, to have this exceptional film as a tribute to his life.
Posted by Lucy S on 12/15/15
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Handwritten letters flutter out of old books donated by her grandmother, Dorothy, to the book store where Roberta works. These letters reveal details about her grandparents while simultaneously raising questions. Time is running short to find answers as her father is ailing and Dorothy is elderly. The story is told in the past and the present through the perspective of these two women. When Dorothy was a young woman she lived in rural England with her husband that became a loveless, childless marriage. When WWII began her husband left to fight. One day a downed Air Force plane near her home brought Dorothy to meet Jan, a Polish pilot and squadron leader. They soon became more than strangers. Until reading this I did not know how much Polish people, exiles from German-occupied Poland, contributed to the war efforts of the RAF in England.
Roberta’s relationships within the book store, her father and grandmother make up the modern day part of the story. She makes some poor decisions along the way and, unfortunately, I thought that the seriousness of the issues was treated a little lightly. Having said that I like how Roberta cares deeply for her family and continues to try to find out more about them. I found myself liking the narrative of Dorothy more, how her hardships and decisions shaped and affected those in her life. How different our lives could be if we weren’t compelled to act in haste and judgment.

If you enjoy a book that has a dual timeline, elements of historical fiction, and old-fashioned letters that advance a story you might consider reading Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by British debut novelist Louise Walter.

Posted by Uncle Will on 12/04/15
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Wayward Pines is a suspense/thriller mini-series based on a 3-book series by Blake Crouch. I watched the DVD before I realized that the show was based on the books. The show was a little confusing and left me wanting more. Imagine my delight when I found that our library owned all 3 books. Needless to say, I checked them all out on 
the same day and read them with the speed of Flash, trying to get to the studio in time to make a cameo appearance on the set of Arrow.
Wayward Pines has a very good cast which includes two Academy Award winners (Melissa Leo and Terrence Howard) along with Matt Dillon, Juliette Lewis, Carla Gugino, and veteran character actor Toby Jones. The setting is a small town in Idaho that was "created" by a billionaire genius. Won't tell you any more. Don't want to spoil the surprises.  Won't even suggest what you should do first - read the books or view the DVD.
This mini-series has been compared to Twin Peaks (1990-1991). Both are quirky.  It basically comes down to what do you prefer:  a fine cup of coffee and a damn good piece of cheery pie or a double-scoop of rum raisin ice cream?
Posted by BARB W on 12/03/15
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Mariel Hemingway, granddaughter of the famed American author Ernest Hemingway, has created a profoundly personal account of life in this famous family in her memoir, Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide in My Family.

Mariel’s life was an odd seesaw of entitlement and dysfunction. Her famous grandfather killed himself only months before she was born, yet there were expectations placed on her as a “Hemingway.” Everyone in her family suffered from something: alcoholism, depression, mental illness.

Mariel became the superficial functional member of this very dysfunctional group. But being the peacemaker in a family like this was costly, and she developed her own set of problems; obsessive compulsive disorder that spawned numerous eating disorders.

The problems around her intensified, and as Mariel tried to build a film career, she also struggled to assist her family and buttress a difficult marriage. The beauty of this book is in the revelation that fame and fortune do not exclude people from pain and tragedy. The real story is how you rebuild your life and choose to live. This is an eloquently told story of survival and strength. Narrated by the author.
Posted by jdunc on 11/25/15
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In the follow-up to her 2011 bestseller Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns), Mindy Kaling returns with insights into her life, career, and just being awesome. Why Not Me? is a collection of essays that provide a funny and honest look at life as a woman in the entertainment industry.

Kaling spends a significant portion of the book discussing her body image. She is often praised in the media for being a confident curvy woman. She tells a story of one journalist who comments over breakfast “don’t worry about the calories much, do you Mindy?”. She is baffled at why people are so surprised to see someone who looks like her on TV or why it is so shocking that she would put jam on her toast.

She also dishes on the men in her life and her working struggles. She reflects on her rise through the industry and gaining confidence as a writer and actress. The last essay of the audiobook discusses how to be a confident woman. She provides very smart, witty comments and to her it comes down to hard work.

The book is like an honest conversation with a friend. While she is funny, she is also really smart and insightful. One of the final chapters discusses the things she worries about. The list reveals an emotional side with worries like “will I forget my mother’s voice”. Kaling lost her mother to pancreatic cancer in 2012.

Fans of other funny women, like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, will love this book. I highly recommend the audiobook version so you can hear it read by Mindy.
essays, humor
Posted by Uncle Will on 11/18/15
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I've been a composer for greater than 50 years. Over that time I've been asked a lot about my influences and what songs inspire me. Henry Mancini is probably my favorite composer and this song, Moon Dance, is quite inspirational.
It can be found on the CD, Down To The Moon, that won the Grammy in 1987. It was written by Andreas Vollenweider who is a Swiss harpist that's recorded 14 albums. Down To The Moon was his 5th album and it was re-released in 2005 and again in 2006. It's been written that his music ". . . evokes nature, magic and fairy tales. . . "
AHML will be hosting a library-wide exhibit on Fairy Tales (January-March 2016). Check this out if you want a head start getting into the mood.
Posted by Lucy S on 11/14/15
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Before she was Beryl Markham the first woman pilot to fly across the Atlantic from east to west and the first licensed horse trainer at the age of 18, she was Beryl Clutterbuck. Born in England, her family moved to Kenya to farm and train racehorses around 1906. Her mother could not adapt so she returned to England leaving her husband and five-year-old Beryl behind. Left to her own devices she grew up a wild child in the Kenyan countryside, survived a lion attack and sought the company of the farm worker’s families. Without the usual social conventions to shape her upbringing, Beryl grew up very strong minded and thought that women should have the same privileges as men.  Her unconventional ideas also spilled over into her mostly unsuccessful love life. 

I enjoyed reading Paula McClain’s historical fiction novel, Circling the Sun, about an adventurous woman who fought against stereotypes and worked hard at her endeavors. It was also eye-opening to read about a time of European settlers in Africa. Those who read Out of Africa or saw the movie will recognize this storyline as Beryl had a long-term complicated friendship with the author Isak Dinesen (Baroness Karen Blixen in the book).

I listened to this story in audiobook format and appreciated hearing this narrator’s voice with the added important element of proper pronunciations for unfamiliar names and places.
Posted by jonf on 11/12/15
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After a showdown with the Yemeni terrorist known as the Panther, John Corey returns to New York City to take a job with the Diplomatic Surveillance Group. John is expecting this to be a quiet job but after being assigned to follow Russian diplomats he discovers a whole new threat.
John is covering a party for Russian oligarchs when Vasily Petrov, a Russian diplomat is taken from the party. John finds out there is a plan for the Russians to plant a dirty bomb on a Saudi Prince's yacht and have it blow up in New York harbor.
The story is the 6th in the John Corey series and is typical fast paced writing by Nelson DeMille.
Spy Suspense
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