Staff Choices

Posted by crossin on 08/05/13
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Looking for some great movies to watch during the dog days of summer?  Why not heed the advice of a renowned film critic?  Every year, from 1967 to 2012, Roger Ebert picked his favorite movie.  Here are his picks--come in and check one out.
Posted by bpardue on 08/02/13
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Patricia Barber, a local jazz fixture, has released an album that sounds like a low-key affair, but there's an intensity and darkness to many of her lyrics, often dealing with the pain of loss and failed relationships.  Musically, things are generally spare and spacious, but that just builds the drama and sets up powerful moments like John Kregor's intense guitar solo on the title song (which seemingly comes out of the blue) or the slow buildup of "Scream."  This is a powerful album that rewards close listening.
Jazz
Posted by Uncle Will on 08/01/13
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Many think that Spencer Tracy, who starred in "Boy's Town," was the first to coin the phrase: "...There's no such thing as a bad boy..."
Then there's some that credit Tarzan with saying: "...There's no such thing as a bad monkey..."
According to a Bahamian voodoo witch known as the Dragon Queen in Carl Hiaasen's new novel Bad Monkey, who is convinced that the Capuchin monkey she craves to acquire is really a human boy -- there's no such thing as either.
 
One of the most delightful things about Carl Hiaasen's books is that you almost don't have to read further than the cast of kooky characters on the book jacket to be thoroughly entertained. In this latest book, Andrew Yancy is a suspended Miami police detective whose suspension was for molesting his former girlfriend's surgeon husband, in public, with a vacuum cleaner. Yes, there was "Film at 11." Yancy has been forced to accept the position of "Chief of the Monroe County Roach Patrol" -- which is better known as the county's restaurant health inspector. His ex-girlfriend, now the ex-wife of a prominent surgeon, has recaptured the magic she once had over 10 years ago with one of her former AP English high school students. This is the very same student that she was arrested, among other things, for contributing to his delinquency.
 
Yancy just wants to be a cop again. He also wants his backyard view returned; an illegally tall housing unit has been constructed right next door to his home by an over-zealous housing developer. To complicate matters, Yancy is asked to store evidence in his deep-freezer. This evidence is a human arm. It's found floating, hooked to a deep-sea fishing rod that's reeled in by an unsuspecting tourist. This arm might or might not have been detached in a boating accident or by malicious behavior. Yancy's police chief refuses to acknowledge either hypothesis. He just wants the arm to disappear.  He has higher political visions that do not include a grisly murder or freak accident in his county.
 
As bodies start to pile up, Yancy and his kinky new girlfriend, a Miami coroner, travel to the Bahamas where clues are likely to be found in the case of the missing arm. Once in the Bahamas, we find a poor islander, Neville, who has been foreclosed by another overly zealous condo developer (this one being a serial killer). Neville is the not-so-proud owner of the monkey, Tom, who starred in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie with Johnny Depp. Tom comes from a long-line of famous show-biz monkeys. Unfortunately, Tom does not perform well in front of an audience. The belief is that Tom has never grown out of his adolescence stage. He likes to bite and fling feces when in public. The Dragon Queen seems to overlook Tom's bounty of bad behaviors in her quest to possess this "baby boy."   
 
Will Neville ever reclaim his modest beach home and his pet monkey who is now addicted to pipe smoking? 
Will Yancy solve this case and retain his gold shield -- along with his desire to eat again in a public restaurant?
Will true love, between the convicted child-molester/former-teacher and her once sexy-star-student (who has since gone to seed), overcome all boundaries, restrictions, and federal warrants?
Will Yancy ever again be able to sit in his backyard and watch the sun set slowly on the sea?
Will Tom and Johnny Depp, together again, ever get to skip rocks off the water?

To get the answers to these questions and more, one will have to read this book.

I'll never tell.
It's a case of monkey-see/monkey-no-speak!
Posted by cstoll-resigned on 07/22/13
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One of my current favorite authors, Marian Keyes does not disappoint with her newest book The Mystery of Mercy Close, a Walsh Sister Novel. This time we are brought into sister Helen's world of private investigation, along with a dose of the normal every day drama that seems to come with this lovable Irish family.
 
If you're not familiar with Keyes's books, my suggestion would be to start with Anybody Out There?  One of the more deeper stories in her sister series, it focuses a tragic event in sister Anna’s life.  If you prefer something more light hearted then pick up Last Chance Saloon or Sushi for Beginners – think Sex in the City meets Shopaholic…definitely chick lit, these stories are a guaranteed fun read with some touches of reality mixed in.  You’ll be captivated from the start as I was with the Walsh family and this author.
Posted by dnapravn on 07/14/13
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I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a debut novel as much as I just enjoyed Suzanne Rindell's The Other Typist. This book is the definition of a page-turner and, truth be told, I'm a bit sleepy today because of it.
 
Rose Baker is a police precinct typist in 1920s New York during the height of Prohibition. Raised in an orphanage with few friends or emotional attachments, Rose prides herself in her attention to detail as well as her high moral standards. When the glamorous and mysterious Odalie joins the typing pool, it doesn't take long for Rose to fall under her spell. Flattered by the attention she receives from Odalie, Rose decides this is the female friend she has longed for her whole life and soon becomes Odalie's roommate as well as her nightly companion at various speakeasies.
 
As the story unfolded, I soon began to doubt the reliability of Rose's narration and found myself rereading passages in an effort to not miss a clue. I look forward to Suzanne Rindell's next novel. What an enjoyable summer read this was!
Posted by bweiner on 07/13/13
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Remember your childhood dreams and nightmares as you drift through the sweeping landscape of the narrator in Neil Gaiman's, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Imagine you are seven years old again, and your wildest dreams and most horrific nightmares have become reality.
 
The story begins when the narrator returns to his childhood town some forty years later to attend a funeral. He leaves the funeral to avoid the awkward parade of questions about relationships and work, and finds himself driving down the little country lane toward the old Hempstock farm. As he drives, he begins to recall the magic and horror that were unleashed the day he met Lettie Hempstock. Our resourceful narrator uses his love of fantasy and fairy tale to protect his family as the darkness descends...

This enchanting, terrifying and provocative work by Neil Gaiman, a master of multifaceted fantasy, will appeal to anyone who remembers the joy and fear that childhood can bring. If you like this novel, The Book of Lost Things and The Gates, both by John Connolly, will also drop you into a world that is alternately disturbing and delightful.
Posted by jfreier on 07/11/13
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Michael St. Pierre and his girlfriend K.C. are kidnapped by an off-the-books government team to help steal two pieces of an ancient Chinese puzzle which, of course, means mass destruction if it falls into the hands of an evil Chinese triad.
 
The nice difference in this book compared to many of this genre is that the two protagonists are master thieves instead of killer spies. The writing is better than most of this genre also, and the settings are well drawn and exotic (Granada, Macau, and the Forbidden City). This would appeal to fans of Dan Brown and Steve Berry.
Posted by rkong on 07/10/13
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Raise your hand, or maybe just nod knowingly, if you’ve heard or read about 3-D printers or hackerspaces like the local Pumping Station One. It seems like everyone, including people working in libraries, is talking about the emerging maker culture and getting excited about how it could bring some positive change into the world.

Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing Mark Frauenfelder, Editor-in-Chief of MAKE magazine, speak about the history of making things and the modern maker movement. He pointed out that in 1900, 80% of Americans were living and working on farms, which means they were makers. This obviously changed as time passed, but now more people are re-discovering the joy and satisfaction of making, building, inventing, prototyping, creating (however you want to say it) something on your own and sharing it with others. Frauenfelder explores this DIY (do-it-yourself) way of life in his book, Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World. He talks about his own family’s experience of embracing a new approach to life, one that involved a lot more learning, being self-sufficient, and connecting with your surroundings and others.
 
If you want to slow down your life, simplify things, and get back in touch with your creative side, I highly recommend Made by Hand or MAKE magazine, which can be found in our magazine section near the fireplace. And look for opportunities to get creative in the library, like in Kids’ World during our Summer Reading Program, in the teen Hub, or in the Studio, our new digital media lab!
Nonfiction
Posted by Pam I am on 07/01/13
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Where'd You Go Bernadette is an absolute riot and after I finished reading it, I was sad the book was over and I actually missed the characters. I found myself wishing that I could meet and hang out with Bernandette in real life (Am I the only strange person that feels this way when I read a good book?)
 
Bernadette Fox is a wife and mother living in Seattle who suffers from anxiety and agoraphobia and would be happy to never have to deal face-to-face with anyone ever again.  But, life creeps in and Bernadette has to co-exist with the overachieving moms at her daughter's school and deal with a growing feud with her neighbor.  The tension rises as Bernadette and her family plan a vacation to Antarctica and in the midst of everything Bernadette disappears.  Her daughter, Bee looks into Bernadette's emails, letters and events in an attempt to reconstruct what happened and to find her mother. 
 
Maria Semple's writing style is ingenious and the storey unfolds in a series of emails and  letters that lead up to Bernadette's disappearance.  I promise you will find yourself laughing out loud at this witty and satirical novel about the chaos of motherhood and life.
Posted by Uncle Will on 06/27/13
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It is no surprise that Stephen King is a master at writing short stories and novellas. His latest work, Joyland, is a coming-of-age suspense story about a college student, Devin Jones, who is hired at a privately owned, seasonal amusement park in North Carolina for the summer.
 
Devin Jones is naive, unexperienced (in most worldly matters), and hopelessly in love with a girl who does not share his same feelings. Devin has to make some hard decisions and chooses to be apart from his beloved Wendy Keegan for their summer break.
 
Devin is hired at Joyland as a general go-fer. His big claim to fame is how well he wears the "fur" which is the hound costume that all the greenies must take turns donning to delight the younger amusement park crowd. Devin rents a room from a local lady who helps him make the adjustment to the carny life. Joyland has a cast of characters that only Stephen King can create.  
Devin quickly makes fast friends with two other college students and the three become inseparable. They learn that there was a young girl murdered at Joyland years ago and that the park is supposedly haunted by her ghost. Devin also befriends a dying boy, his beautiful mother and their cute Facebook-worthy dog, Milo, the Jack Russell terrier. 
 
Needless to say, Devin grows up big-time that summer and even has a hand in solving a murder mystery that predates this 1973 storyline. At less than 300 pages and soft-covered, this book should be atop one's list for a beach read this summer. 
 
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