Staff Choices

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.
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.
Posted by dnapravn on 05/14/13
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I'm almost afraid I'll jinx us by putting this in writing, but spring seems to have finally arrived in Arlington Heights. As soon as the thermometer hit the 70 degree mark for the first time, my thoughts turned to gardening. Our library has many books to get your family of gardeners started outside, no matter what shade of green your thumb may be.
Rocks, Dirt, Worms & Weeds by Jeff Hutton is a fun-filled guide to creating vegetable and flower gardens with your kids. From starting seeds indoors to creating gardens that attract birds and butterflies, this book has everything you need (except a shovel) to spend the summer digging in the dirt with your kids.
Teeny Tiny Gardening by Emma Hardy is gardening on the smallest of scales. This book is filled with ideas for planting in anything from empty eggshells to salvaged containers. Some of my favorite ideas include planting vegetables in an old colander or having your kids create a fairy or dinosaur garden. This book is beautifully illustrated with clearly numbered steps that make the most challenging projects doable.
The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids by Whitney Cohen and John Fisher encourages getting your children outside and involved in all aspects of gardening, from design to harvest. From planting pizza or salsa beds to making sure to incorporate fun family features into your yard, this book if filled with projects to get your kids to stop watching TV and start watching the garden.
So grab one of our many wonderful gardening books and a shovel because it's time to garden!
Posted by rkong on 05/12/13
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Whether you're a fan of electronic music duo Daft Punk or you simply like robots with shiny helmets, you're probably counting down the days until their new album, Random Access Memories, is released later this month. While you're waiting, check out some of Daft Punk's previous albums like Discovery (2001), Human After All (2005) or the TRON Legacy soundtrack (2010). If that isn't enough to hold you over, you can also listen to Get Lucky, the first single released from the new album, and watch a series of revealing interviews with musicians who collaborated with Daft Punk on the upcoming album. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers are just some of the featured collaborators. Long live the robots!
Posted by Pam I am on 05/09/13
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If you are looking for an epic novel that spans more than fifty years, then Kate Morton's The Secret Keeper is a must read--it moves between 1941 London during the Blitz, the 1960's, and present day.  This book is part historical fiction, part mystery.  In present day, Laurel remembers a tragic family event from the 1960's and is driven to solve the meaning of this before her aging mother dies.  As she begins to examine her family's past, she uncovers secrets from war-torn London and begins to wonder who her mother really is.  Morton keeps your interest on every page with well developed characters and a rapidly moving plot.  I liked it so much, that I will definitely read Morton's other books.
Posted by Uncle Will on 05/01/13
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This November marks the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination and the cold-blooded killing of Dallas patrolman, J. D. Tippit. What better way to remember it than a new suspense novel by Pulitzer Prize winning author Stephen Hunter? This is the eighth book in the Marine sniper Bob Lee Swagger series. Bob the Nailer is back and this time he is solving the crime of the century, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963.
Swagger is asked to investigate the death of journalist Jean Marquez's husband, James Aptapton, who was a well-known "gun guy." Just as Swagger begins to unfold the facts, he becomes the target of an international hit man. Swagger immediately goes from prey to hunter. The book is written in two narratives. One is the voice of Swagger and the other is Hugh Meachum, the CIA agent that manipulated Lee Harvey Oswald. 
Although this new novel can stand alone, readers should check out Hunter's previous novels in this series:   
Point of Impact (1993)  adapted to film in "Shooter" (2007) starring Mark Wahlberg
Black Light (1996)
Time to Hunt (1998)
The 47th Samurai (2007)
Night of Thunder (2008)
I, Sniper (2009)
Dead Zero (2010)
Anyone who has read Stephen Hunter knows his reputation as a respected author of historic fiction. This book does not disappoint.
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