Staff Choices

Posted by Ultra Violet on 05/15/14
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Martin Strauss has a severe memory disorder. His doctor explains that he will get increasingly worse. Strangely, Martin will not just lose his true memories, but he will also "remember" things that never happened. Adding to his psychological discomfort, Martin is disturbed by his guilt. He was the man who punched Harry Houdini, causing his death.
 
While this is a mysterious historical fiction about the life and death of Houdini, it is also about the fictional character Martin Strauss who struggles with anxiety, uncertainty, guilt, and regret. So, pretty much, the human condition. Martin Strauss and Harry Houdini cross paths repeatedly in a twisting story of reality and illusion. It is an exciting and suspenseful novel, but also a pleasure for a fan of Houdini. Among the many wild speculations and fictionalizations, there is some solid fact about the life of the brilliant illusionist. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his spiritual medium wife make a cameo. And by the end, the reader has been lead on a crazy, fun journey with a surprising and meaningful ending.
Posted by bweiner on 05/14/14
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Clarissa is being stalked, and like most victims, she knows her stalker. She even has vague memories of intimacy between them, but her memories fade following the time she and Rafe left the bar. She is about to find out what happened that night, courtesy of some very personal pictures her stalker has been hoarding…
 
The Book of You, the debut novel by Claire Kendal, recounts the events following the one night Clarissa spends with Rafe after being discarded by her married lover. Clarissa anxiously attempts to piece together the events of the night, but her memories are cloudy. She becomes a prisoner in her home and finds respite in her appointment to a seven week jury deliberating a rape and assault case. But there is nowhere to hide; she is observed and confronted by Rafe wherever she goes.
 
Clarissa wavers between indecision and purposeful action as we witness her resolve to end this nightmare. The “you” in this story is Rafe, and Clarissa is chronicling every moment and every action of his assault on her. Will she gather enough evidence to justify police involvement, or is she too late?
 
Explore the depths of desperation in this tense, psychological thriller by an engaging new author.
 
Posted by Stagint on 05/13/14
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 “Please sit,” Sachi said, pointing to the cushions by the low black lacquer table.  Then she disappeared into the kitchen, only to reappear a few moments later carrying two cups of tea. “You must be cold and thirsty after your long walk.”
I took the small clay cup from her and sipped from it.  The warm, slightly bitter tea soothed my dry throat.  I smiled, looked up, and asked, “Is everything all right?”
“Has Matsu-san led you to believe otherwise?” she asked.
“He said very little.”
Sachi laughed softly and sipped her tea. “It is just like Matsu,” she said, shaking her head.  She sat down at the table across from me.  “Matsu didn’t want to tell you that I could no longer go down to Tarumi.  My presence there has brought great dishonor to all of you.” (Page 74-75)
Gail Tsukiyama’s The Samurai’s Garden gives insight on the effect of love and affection to overcome our sorrows and confronts us with the many challenges and hardships of personal loneliness. One of the three main characters of the book is Stephen who is a college student in Canton, China near the beginning of World War II. Stephen contracts tuberculosis and is sent by his parents to live in a small Japanese village near the ocean to recover.  In the small village of Tarumi, he is living in his grandparents’ home and being cared for by Matsu the servant and caretaker of the house.  Matsu, the second central character, is very quiet and efficient and at first does not allow Stephen close.  The third main character of the book is Sachi who has leprosy and must live in a secluded leper colony.  As the story progresses, we learn about the connection between Matsu and Sachi.  As they get to know Stephen, who though ill has great enthusiasm and love for the life he is discovering in Tarumi, Matsu and Sachi open up to this new friendship.  Stephen tells the story in the form of a journal he is keeping.  As he reflects on his parents’ relationship, his sister, the many hardships suffered by Sachi and Matsu, Stephen grows up and matures.  It is a thought-provoking and heartwarming story.
 
Posted by lsears on 05/12/14
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It is 1945, Tokyo, a month after Japan’s surrender in WWII. Francis Van Cleave is a private in the United States army attached to the Officers Personnel Section, a sort of military secretarial pool. 
 
Van Cleave gets the attention of General Douglas MacArthur when he attends an Army-Navy football game screening at MacArthur’s home with other military personnel. This invitation comes as an unasked for favor by his roommate, Corporal Clifford, who serves in the Honor Guard Company, a division assigned to work as a personal escort for the general and visiting dignitaries.  After sending MacArthur’s son, Arthur, a gift for his 8th birthday, Van Cleave begins an unusual assignment, almost an order, to visit the MacArthur’s home on a weekly basis to spend time with the boy.
 
Van Cleave is young, naïve, and receives unwanted news from his new wife back home. We see a side of life the military men partake in in their off-time not knowing the language, the culture, and still finding a way to get themselves into trouble. Michael Knight tells a story that is rooted in history but surrounds it with rich invented detail. 
 
This story made me wonder whatever happened to Arthur MacArthur?
 
Fiction
Posted by crossin on 05/06/14
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It’s May, which means Mother’s Day is around the corner. Last year, Time Out ranked the most classic movie mothers of all time. Given their top billing is Mommie Dearest, it’s safe to say that these movie moms may not all be ideal role models. Maybe this Mother’s Day, you could check one of these out to watch with your mom—and don’t forget the chocolate.
 
Posted by Kelley M on 05/03/14
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“We are all refugees from our childhoods.  And so we turn, among other things, to stories.  To write a story, is to be a refugee from the state of refugees.  Writers and readers seek a solution to the problem that time passes, that those who have gone are gone and those who will go, which is to say every one of us, will go.  For there was a moment when anything was possible.  And there will be a moment when nothing is possible.  But in between we can create.”

If you’re looking for a twist of genre, this is the right book for you.  It gets its style from the self-help books which are popular among youths around “rising Asia”. What is fascinating about this book is you will not learn the character’s names.  You will never know the main character’s profession - how exactly he gets rich in “rising Asia”.  You will not even become aware of what Asian country the book is set in.  However, Mohsin Hamid's style keeps you reading.  The entire book is written in second person, so it takes you aback since it seems to be talking about you.  Without knowing specifics, the author takes you through 8 decades of the main character’s life in 228 pages.  The book seems to be both specific & broad at the same time (if that even seems possible). 
 
If you’re looking for a new spin on fiction & don’t mind a little strong language, you might like this one.  This is one of the most innovative works of fiction I've read this year.
 
Mohsin Hamid is also the author of the award-winning Reluctant Fundamentalist.
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 04/28/14
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The Hunt is the most powerful film I've seen this year.   International film star Mads Mikkelsen stars as Lucas, a kindergarten assistant teacher whose life is beginning to turn around.  He has a new female friend that is supportive.  The custody suit for Marcus, his teenage son, is progressing positively and appears that he'll soon be awarded said privileges. Suddenly Lucas is  the victim of a innocent lie. Before he can even grasp the social significance of that spiraling lie, he becomes an outcast in his small community; a foul foe in the eyes of all his friends and acquaintances.  He's forced to hunt for the truth.
 
This film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year (2014) and Mikkelsen won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012.  Overall this film has been nominated for 40 international awards and has won 30. This Denmark drama (originally titled "Jagten") is shown in Danish with English subtitles.  It has an adult R-rating and runs 115 mins. 
 
The next time you are looking for something worthwhile to watch, this film would be worthy of the time spent.
 
 
 
Posted by bpardue on 04/27/14
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OK, blast from the past!  This 1984 cult comedy/adventure flick is one glorious mess of a movie. Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) is a brilliantly implausible hero: neurosurgeon, particle physicist, engineering whiz, rock star and all-around-great-and-sensitive-guy. He's just broken the inter-dimensional barrier by driving his jet car right through a mountain and into the eighth dimension, but in doing so, he's opened a rift that might allow a long-banished alien villain, John Whorfin, to return to his home, Planet Ten.  To keep that from happening, the denizens of Planet Ten are set to destroy the earth if Banzai can't stop Whorfin, who, since a 1938 mishap, has occupied the body and mind of the now-demented Dr. Emilio Lizardo (John Lithgow). Banzai, along with his collaborators/sidekicks/backing band, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, set out to save the day, with a little help from a young kid and his dad from Grovers Mill, NJ (there's a "War of the Worlds" connection). Weller's the star, but Lithgow steals the show as Lizardo/Whorfin, playing it way past "over the top." There are dozens of quotable moments ("No matter where you go, there you are.") and lots of odd little asides that never get explained (look for the watermelon!). The movie was always intended to be a comic book, and it's best enjoyed as if it is one.
 

Posted by jmurrow on 04/24/14
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After having survived the horrors of the mysterious Antarctic, Alan Moore's latest installment of his Nemo miniseries sees the pirate queen and her lover battling through a nightmarish World War II era Berlin to rescue their family from the Adenoid Hynkel
 
Whereas the earlier installment took its' inspiration from the Boy's-own adventures of the 1920s, this outing sees the world through the celluloid lens of the German Impressionist films of the era.  While Alan sticks to the fast-paced adventure format of the previous installment, O'Neill outdoes himself painting feverish vistas of totalitarian eye candy: from vast subterranean lairs split with zigzagging shadows right out of a Robert Wiene film, to the dehumanized human figures that pass under vertiginous buildings and phantasmagoric floating transport ships.  A rip-roaring adventure, this latest installment is a welcome addition to Alan and Kevin's League of Extraordinary series. 
 
 
Posted by bweiner on 04/23/14
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Desperation can drive anyone to make disastrous decisions. In The Vanishing, by Wendy Webb, Julia Bishop has reached a crossroad in her life. Her husband Jeremy has cheated countless innocent people in a fraudulent investment scheme. His subsequent suicide has left Julia vulnerable and exposed.
 
When the mysterious Amaris Sinclair offers her an opportunity to exit her past and renew her future, she jumps at the chance. But her move to the centuries old estate of Havenwood may be her last. The mysterious mansion holds more questions than answers, and the whispering walls begin to close in on her...
 
Experience the mystery and terror of this tangled tale by an appealingly articulate Midwestern author.
 
One word of caution: You may want to lock the door and leave the lights on...
horror, Mystery
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