Staff Choices

Posted by Trixie on 10/22/13
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All of you Walking Dead fans get your zombie fix throughout the year, but for those who prefer to save zombies for the month of October, I’ve got a great book and new movie for you: Issac Marion’s Warm Bodies.

Warm Bodies is a hilarious retelling of the classic Romeo and Juliet love story. R, zombie protagonist, is an endearing, likeable character. His narration, which is mostly through thoughts since his zombie speaking skills are lacking, is genuine and poignant. Readers get an honest view of what's on his mind, his feelings of loss and longing. Julie, daughter of the general tasked with keeping the living safe from the undead, serves as a perfect foil. She is fearless, not afraid to speak her mind and even challenges her father when they disagree. Marion tells an unlikely zombie tale, one where the “happy ending” doesn’t involve extermination of the undead.

What’s the verdict? The book is way better than the movie! Don’t get me wrong: Jonathan Levine did a great job on the screenplay and direction. It’s just tough to translate a book mostly narrated through zombie thoughts into a film. The sweet and quirky qualities of the book come across as hokey in the movie. Levine does capture the spirit of the book and presents an uncommon zombie story.

If you’re looking for a heartwarming story, creative/unique zombie tale, or enjoy classic retellings, Warm Bodies is for you! The movie is worth checking out, but the book is where it’s at!

Not enough zombies in your life? The Hub is celebrating Zombie October. Stop in and join us for one or all of our zombie-themed activities!
 
Posted by bpardue on 10/18/13
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Christopher Buckley's universe seems to be populated pretty much by conniving insiders with not much of a moral compass--which makes them very entertaining.  In 2012's "They Eat Puppies, Don't They?," we meet Walter "Bird" McIntyre, a lobbyist (with a secret yearning to be a Tom Clancy-like novelist) who's been tasked by his defense contractor employers to create a U.S.-China conflict in order to justify the mind-boggling cost of a super-secret weapons project.  He works with ultra-neocon Angel Templeton (of the Institute for Continuing Conflict) to start a rumor that Chinese agents are trying to assassinate the Dalai Lama. Pretty soon, US and Chinese officials are scrambling to get ahead of the story, and things start to spiral out of control.  McIntyre's personal situation is complicated by the fact that his wife, Myndi, has just been made a member of the US Equestrian team--after great financial investment on Bird's part--and is looking forward to a major competition in China, the kind of thing that gets canceled when two nations ramp up the military rhetoric.  The characters are colorful, the dialog snappy.  It's a quick, entertaining read, and reminds me a bit of the work of Carl Hiaasen.
humor, politics
Posted by bweiner on 10/18/13
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Imagine succulent short ribs, braised in broth with the fragrant flavorings of garlic and onions. The tender beef, bathing in warm broth, is then topped with toasted sour dough bread and golden melted Gruyere cheese. Sound good?
 
Imagine no longer, instead pick up a copy of Food Network Chef Alex Guarnaschelli's cookbook, Old-School Comfort Food. To further delight your taste buds, pair this with some beer-braised carrots, small tender morsels in a sweet beer glaze with exotic spices. Finish off your meal with a sour cream pumpkin pie, the sweetness of pumpkin perfectly paired with the tangy richness of sour cream, all embraced in a delectable crust.
 
Acclaimed Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, one of the Food Network's Iron Chefs, shares her personal food journey with us in this wonderful collection of "comfort food" recipes. There are inspirational stories of sharing the kitchen with her mom, and practical advice about must-have kitchen equipment and stock food items. The cold weather is approaching fast; start cooking these gratifying and satisfying meals now!
Posted by mothic-resigned on 10/17/13
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Let me start by saying that I don’t like to be scared. I was 14 the last time I watched a horror movie and A Nightmare on Elm Street truly did give me nightmares for a week. So I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to the horror genre. Help for the Haunted, however, provided just the perfect level of creepy without venturing into Jason Vorhees jumping out of a closet territory.
 
In Help for the Haunted, Sylvie Mason’s parents have an unusual occupation—helping “haunted souls” find peace. After receiving a strange phone call one winter’s night, they leave the house and are later murdered in an old church in a horrifying act of violence. And while the Mason’s story is firmly rooted in the supernatural world, this truly is a coming of age story.
 
Sylvie and Rose Mason are compelling characters whose struggles with finding their place in their family and in their world are written in an authentic and relatable way. From the moment Sylvie and Rose’s parents are killed, I was invested in this story. I felt like a detective who was finding clues and needed to keep going to help these two lost girls. Each new clue added layers that deepened the mystery and revealed the secrets that the family members had hidden away within themselves. While all of the clues didn’t add up perfectly, the story is eminently entertaining and readable with characters that you can’t help but root for. Don’t wait for Halloween! Read it now.
 
Posted by jfreier on 10/12/13
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Fans of William Kent Krueger's Cork O'Connor series will not be disappointed with the newest book in the series, Tamarack County. Cork is called to consult on the mysterious disappearance of the wife of a powerful judge. The missing woman at first seems unrelated to disturbing events that have recently happened to Cork's family and friends, but the more he investigates the woman's disappearance the more he thinks he could be wrong.
 
 
Cork's son and his girlfriend are run off the road by an unknown driver and then the dog of the girlfriend is found murdered at her house. More threats follow as Cork's family life becomes more chaotic. Cork is dealing with the sudden return of his eldest daughter Anne,who has left her order before becoming the nun that was her dream.
 
 
The threats against Corks' family escalate and Cork discovers a connection between the missing woman and a twenty year old cold case. This is a multi layered mystery which also combines the the struggle for Cork to keep his family together. William Kent Krueger gets better with every book.
Mystery
Posted by dnapravn on 10/09/13
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In Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog, (etc.), Delia Ephron writes a series of autobiographical essays about love, life, and family. I had never read anything by her before, although I will confess to having seen the movie You've Got Mail more than once. Okay...way more than once.
 
The essays range from funny to serious and introspective. They all feel very honest. In the emotional "Losing Nora", Ephron writes about the loss of her older sister, Nora Ephron. You can feel the pain of her loss as she writes about their complicated and loving relationship. In "If My Dad Could Tweet" she writes about how much her dad would have loved Twitter had he been alive to see it. Other essays have her confessing her love of bakeries and addressing the concept of "having it all", how overwhelming it can be to keep up with the updates on all of your devices, and a hilarious essay in which she vows to never order Christmas presents online again.
 
I found this book to be a quick read; mostly funny and often touching. I am glad I picked it up. Now excuse me while I go find my DVD copy of You've Got Mail.
Posted by annetteb on 10/07/13
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Have you ever wondered what happened to Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby and Jake Barnes from The Sun Also Rises? Fitzgerald and Hemingway’s protagonists unite in the era of McCarthyism, along with a host of recognizable characters in this delightful epistolary exchange. Authors Jonathan and Tad Richards paint a new story with Nick and Jake: An Epistolary Novel, situating them in a new era, and in a host of new and evocative dilemmas. If you enjoy classic texts, and a lighthearted teen-oriented interpretation, this epilogue is not to be missed.
Posted by Pam I am on 10/04/13
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Rachel's Holiday was recommended to me by a colleague as a "must read" in the chick lit genre. I am so glad I took her advice. Rachel's Holiday definitely touches on many elements of a great chick lit book:  dysfunction of families, maintaining friendships, finding love, and redemption. Marian Keyes captures the reader with her witty writing style and humor, but this book is not all fluff. This book confronts serious issues such as addiction and recovery.
 
Rachel Walsh is from an Irish family of five sisters, and she is living and working as a single girl in New York City. Rachel is living the dream until she is fired from her job and her boyfriend dumps her because of her addiction to drugs. She is sent by her family to a rehab facility in Ireland, but she is in serious denial of her problem. She is absolutely sure that her visit to rehab will be a "holiday" complete with movie stars, great food, and spa treatments. But, Rachel soon learns she must confront her addiction and embrace her new lease on life. Even though there are dark moments for Rachel the story unfolds with humor and there were many moments that I found myself laughing out loud.
 
This book is part of a series about the Walsh Family sisters:  Watermelon is about Clare, Anybody Out There is about Anna, Angels is about Margaret, and Mystery of Mercy Close is about Helen.  I will definitely be reading more about the Walsh sisters.
 
 
Chick Lit
Posted by crossin on 10/01/13
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October is my favorite month—the chilly weather, crunchy leaves and houses pimped out for Halloween just make me happy. It also puts me in the mood to snuggle in and watch a good horror flick. I’m not talking about one of the slasher films that seem to dominate theaters these days, but a movie that plays with your mind and creeps you out so much that you need to turn the lights on, like Rosemary’s Baby or Wait Until Dark.
 
Earlier this year, the folks at Entertainment Weekly posted a list of what they consider the twenty scariest movies of all time. It’s nice to see some of my favorites on it.
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 09/27/13
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The recent film World War Z brought zombies to the big screen.  But, the novel Zombie, Illinois shows that zombies have hit locally.  Author  Scott Kenemore is carving out a small niche for himself in the ever-growing zombie genre. His two previous books were: Zombie, Ohio:  A Tale of the Undead and Zombies Vs. Nazis: A Lost History of the Walking Dead.  Although this book is entitled Zombie, Illinois, it could have easily instead be called Zombie, Chicago.
 
The story takes places entirely in Chicago, on the night that zombies literally hit the beach.  It is told in alternating first-person narratives from the perspective of the three main characters: Ben Bennington, Pastor Leopold Mack and Maria Ramirez. Ben is a reporter for "Brain's Chicago Business." He's a lonely, out of shape, middle-age hack that is always on the hunt for that one big scoop that will launch his stagnant career.  Pastor Mack heads the congregation of "The Church of Heaven's God in Christ Lord Jesus." Though the church's name is more than a mouthful, Mack has the undying respect of his flock and some deep-hidden skeletons stashed in his closet. Maria's closet also contains some dark secrets, but what you see is mostly what you get.  She is the drummer for a female Chicago-based rock band that is moderately popular.  Can she help it that her old man is a former wife-beater and child-abuser who has transformed himself into a prominent city alderman?
 
The plot is simplistic: Zombies arrive and begin to eat their way through the city while the graveyards expel tons of reinforcements. The corrupt city leaders choose sides and try to use this apocalyptic catastrophe to position themselves into power. Our three reluctant heroes join forces and for selfish reasons try to save themselves and their city.
 

From chapter to chapter it becomes obvious that Kenemore cannot be a Chicago native. His jaded view of our city seems to rise at times to comic proportions. Poetic license forces one to give him credit where credit may or may not be due, although the many references to Chicago landmarks and neighborhoods, on the most part, remain accurate. The narrative style makes it refreshingly different for a zombie novel.  I will not spoil the story by disclosing whether the zombies are fast-moving or operate in slow-motion.  Sorry, you'll have to read the book.

 
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