Staff Choices

Posted by Uncle Will on 03/25/13
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Extra! Extra! Read all about it...three Paul Doiron reviews in one!
During our last snowstorm I was trying to find a new mystery author that I hadn't read. I stumbled upon Bad Little Falls which is the 3rd book in the Mike Bowditch series.  
Bowditch is a young rookie game warden in upstate Maine.  He has a troubled past, a new ex-girlfriend, a severe loner complex, and a very large-sized chip on his shoulder. In his relatively short law enforcement career he has managed to get himself exiled to the most remote county in Maine.
I didn't have a choice (because of availability) and read the trilogy out of order...knowing full well that this was a major no-no in the "Official Guide to Mystery Readers'" handbook. I'm glad I did.  In retrospect, I learned that by book three, Doiron had smoothed out the sharp edges on his main character, Bowditch, making him a little more likeable. 
Hooked on the cold, vast setting of northeastern Maine and the remarkable characters, I then read the second book in this series: Trespasser, which involved a mysterious missing murdered female, who was a car accident victim, and several similar past crimes.  Bowditch, who again has the misfortune of occupying the right space at the wrong time, becomes entrenched in a multiple-murder investigation where he is considered one of the primary suspects. 
Consuming these 2 books lead me to the inevitable: reading Doiron's first award-winning novel: The Poacher's Son. In this story, Bowditch's estranged father, Jack, was on the run for multiple-murders.  Against direct orders, and all reason, son Mike sets out to prove his father's innocence. In all three books there are the reoccurring themes of man-against-nature and bitter cold vs. bitter people. Can a damaged man ever find peace within himself?   
Posted by bpardue on 03/18/13
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Bryan Ferry's music has always been tinged with a retro feel. Even the jarringly eclectic first album by Roxy Music featured his Cole Porter-styled crooning. Now he's gone even further back in the musical time machine, adapting some of his best-known songs into early jazz-age arrangements (think Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke). He even used special recording techniques to give the sessions a true 1920s feel.  The songs have also been turned into instrumentals and Ferry doesn't actually play anything--he's more of a conceptualist/arranger. So, how do things fare? Once you get past the "how can he possibly make 'The Bogus Man' work that way?" stage, surprisingly well. Significant stylistic liberties are taken--"Avalon" loses its silky groove and gets a bit more of a stomp--but it all turns into a very delightful listen. In the long run, it may be better in doses, though.
Posted by jfreier on 03/16/13
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In Bye Bye Baby, Chicago P.I. Nate Heller is hired by Marilyn Monroe to bug her phones as she is being harassed by Fox studios and possibly by government agencies. This mystery is filled with real people including Bobby Kennedy, Jimmy Hoffa, Frank Sinatra,and Chicago gangsters. This is a fast-paced mystery dealing with the death of Marilyn Monroe, in which Nate knows it was murder.
Posted by Pam I am on 03/07/13
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Lately I have been on a kick of reading Young Adult fiction even though I don't quite fit that demographic.(forty-something?)  But, there are so many amazing Teen books that are great for adults too that I can't seem to stop!  The YA book Paper Towns by John Green is a great read no matter your age. 
Green is know for his well written award-winning young adult novels. In this book, Quentin Jacobsen is a smart, nerdy high school senior who has been in love with his neighbor, Margo Roth Speigelman for years.  She is a popular, crazy, spirited rebel who he worships from afar. One night she shows up at his bedroom window dressed as a ninja and they spend the night carrying out her plan for revenge on classmates who have wronged her. Quentin is thrilled to re-kindle his friendship with Margo, but by the next day she goes missing. Quentin goes on a mission to find her and piece together where she might have gone and why. Through his journey he learns things about himself and Margo that he never knew.
This book is filled with humor, heartbreak and insight and will touch you no matter your age.
Posted by crossin on 03/04/13
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If you are a film buff, or a film buff wannabe, you might enjoy the latest releases from Criterion. The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films, is dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions that offer the highest technical quality and award-winning, original supplements. Each film is presented uncut, in its original aspect ratio, as its maker intended it to be seen.
The library purchases DVDs of all titles in the Criterion Collection. Films being released this month include Terrence Malick’s Badlands and Fritz Lang’s Ministry of Fear.
comedy, drama
Posted by bpardue on 02/14/13
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I'm an unabashed fan of  "progressive rock." I hum Mike Oldfield music in my sleep (this really annoys my wife). Imagine my delight at seeing that his 1980 album QE2 was reissued in late 2012. Frankly, it's an under-appreciated album. His longer works (Tubular Bells, Ommadawn, etc.) are classics, but you sometimes had to wade through the long, repetitive quiet parts to get to those great Oldfield guitar solos. Not in QE2. The songs are shorter and with a stronger, more accessible rock feel than his earlier work. That's not to say that there's not the necessary pomp--snippets of Bach in "Conflict," a brief horn fanfare in the title track, African drums, kettle get the idea. Ultimately, though, it's Oldfield's guitar that gets you. It's, well, majestic...and you never have to wait too long to hear it. The use of 1980s vocoders (synthesizers that give the singer kind of a robot voice) make the album seem a bit quaint and retro in a few places, but that's part of the fun. The bonus alternate takes and live tracks are OK (the stripped down live performances have an even harder edge), but lack the expansive sound of the main album. Ultimately...if you like this kind of thing, this is the kind of thing you'll like.
Posted by Uncle Will on 02/04/13
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Set in post-war Los Angeles, this new nonfiction book reads like historical fiction.  Lieberman has an easy-going narrative style that keeps his recounting moving fluidly. 
Mickey Cohen was the major mob boss in L.A. in 1946.  A certain captain in the LAPD realized that the only way to bring Cohen down was to work outside the law.  It was the old adage of fighting-fire-with-fire. Sgt. Jack O'Mara was selected to lead a team of detectives that would be the firefighters that were to put out Cohen's flames.  This book is the historic account. 
Lieberman's book rights were purchased by Hollywood and a major motion-picture was released last month starring Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin.
If L.A. Confidential was to your liking, this book will not displease. 
Posted by bpardue on 02/01/13
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Not a history, not quite a memoir, You Were Never In Chicago is a highly personal rumination about what it means to be a Chicagoan...or, more precisely, what it means to be an non-Chicagoan whose job it is to chronicle the city and who's come to love it.  Steinberg is a Chicago Sun-Times columnist, born in Berea, Ohio and currently living in Northbrook.  He deftly intertwines details of Chicago's colorful past, his own arrival as a Northwestern University student in 1978, tales of his somewhat haphazard career path and profiles of fascinating Chicagoans (both well-known and obscure) he's met, profiled or written obituaries for along the way (the obituary details are especially enlightening).  Steinberg takes special pride in getting to know parts of the city most people miss (the deep-tunnel project, the Jay's potato chip plant, a paper tube manufacturer) and he writes in a colorful style that makes the book a quick, entertaining read.  If you love Chicago, you'll enjoy this book!
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 12/28/12
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Tom Sherbourne is a man of high moral standards after having been awarded the Medal of Honor after surviving 4 horrific years in combat during World War I.  After the war, Tom returned to Australia, takes a wife and becomes the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a square mile piece of green set off the coast of Western Australia between two oceans - one peaceful and calm, one violent.  It was there that he and his wife, after having suffered three miscarriages, discover a boat washed up on the shore.  Inside the boat they find the body of a dead man, a woman's sweater, and a baby - alive.
I'm amazed at the number of excellent books that I've read this year that are debut novels.  The Light Between Oceans, M. L. Stedman's first literary effort, is the story of a heartbreaking moral dilemma.  It's been a very long time since I read a book that moved me to tears.  This book is that moving, as well as beautifully descriptive with well-developed characters.
Posted by jfreier on 12/16/12
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 The autobiography of an NBA legend is both sad and inspiring. West starts with his growing up in a  small West Virginia mining town dealing with an abusive father and depression. Jerry uses his natural athletic gift of playing basketball to escape from his abused childhood.
West becomes a local high school star and then a star at U of West Virginia, where he came within one point of a national championship. West then was drafted by the Lakers and became an NBA all star from 1960-1974, and winning the title in 1972 after losing numerous finals to the his nemesis the Boston Celtics.
The book is filled with his struggle to overcome his depression and low self esteem despite all of his success as a player and General Manager with 3 NBA title to his credit. The anecdotes and inside stories relating to NBA greats like Bill Russell, Elgin Baylor and others are wonderful, a must read for sports fans.

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