Staff Choices

Posted by jdunc on 08/26/14
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B.J. Novak, writer, producer, and actor of the popular TV series The Office, offers a highly entertaining debut work of short stories in One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories. The compilation is read primarily by Novak with appearances from some of today’s top comedians and actresses such as Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, and Emma Thompson. The collection contains random thoughts expanded into creative short stories. Some are based on well-known stories or concepts including the tortoise and the hare seeking a rematch, the real story behind train math problem, winning a cereal prize and revealing a family secret, and what heaven is like.

The stories range in length from one sentence to several pages. Most are funny, engaging, and witty stories with a twist. I particularly liked "Julie and the Warlord" which describes a blind date with a warlord who Julie met on an online dating service and a story about of group of friends attempting to stage an intervention in the age of Facebook. Novak offers a perceptive and poignant look at human emotions.  I recommend the audiobook for the variation in voices and BJ Novak’s sense of humor in reading his own stories. The audio is available via audiobook CD or for download in Overdrive.

Posted by dnapravn on 08/22/14
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I recently watched Bears, the newest Disneynature documentary to be released to DVD and Blu-ray, and all I can say is "wow"!
Bears is set on the Alaskan peninsula and follows a mother brown bear and her two cubs through their first year of life. Through absolutely breathtaking cinematography you witness the bears' journey from their winter den high in the mountains down to the shore and their summer food source. You see the many hazards they face and learn much about brown bears in the process. For example, did you know that fifty percent of brown bear cubs do not survive their first year of life? Also, the brown bear has an excellent sense of smell, seven times that of a bloodhound.
I will admit to being fascinated by bears and was mesmerized by this beautiful documentary. If I were to name a downside though, I found the narrator to be a bit annoying and the film edited to be overly dramatic at times. However, the beautiful scenery and amazing wildlife shots captured in this film more than made up for any annoyances.
While you are waiting for your copy of Bears, don't miss out on others in the Disneynature series. They are all beautifully done as well as educational.
Posted by lsears on 08/20/14
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“What do you seek in these shelves?” This is the question asked of Clay Jannon when he first enters Mr. Penumbra’s 24–Hour Bookstore looking for a job. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines penumbra (noun) as a space of partial illumination (as in an eclipse) between the perfect shadow on all sides and the full light. By giving the proprietor this name, Robin Sloan gives us a hint as to the impending mystery surrounding this character.
Hired to work the night shift, Clay quickly begins to wonder how the bookstore makes enough money to stay in business.  Most of the customers he sees come not to buy books but to borrow them from a vast special collection. Curiosity leads him to try to understand the meaning these books may contain, these manuscripts of one’s life, these Codex Vitae. Not above using his friends at Google and Apple to pursue an answer he finds himself delving into in a cult-like fellowship called the Unbroken Spine. 
There is a playfulness and a humorous quality to this book that I enjoyed; even the book jacket glows with an eerie light in the dark. It doesn’t take itself too seriously even though it covers topics of old knowledge versus new technology, friendship and disappointment, adapting and rising to the occasion when warranted. These are subjects anyone can write about in their own Codex Vitae.
Fiction, humor
Posted by jmurrow-res on 08/19/14
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Michio Kaku’s ability to infuse his books with his infectious brand of “gee wiz” excitement, and the occasional reference to geek culture, have made his previous books, Physics of the Impossible and Physics of the Future,  New York Times best sellers, a rarity for works dedicated to examining high-level scientific concepts, and his newest title is no exception. 
The Future of the Mind examines current, cutting-edge research in the fields of neurobiology, psychology, and cognitive therapies, and imagines a future where we will be able to implant artificial memories into our brains, take a pill that will make us smarter, and even upload our brains into immortal artificial bodies.  Filled with interesting anecdotes, interviews with experts in various fields, and musings on the possibilities presented by new discoveries of how the brain works, I thoroughly enjoyed this preview of things to come!  
Posted by bweiner on 08/14/14
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Short Term 12 features something extraordinary in modern filmmaking; exceptionally believable characters who mirror our own frailties and limitations. There was never a moment in the film that was insincere or unconvincing.
This is the story of Grace and Mason, two caretakers at a short term foster care facility for at-risk teenagers. Brie Larson, as Grace, is tough and tender and runs the facility with a firm but loving hand. John Gallagher Jr., as Mason, is her sounding board and safe place. These two have barely passed their teenage years, and the weight of their difficult journeys raises their empathy while building their defenses. We come to recognize Grace as a survivor, and we are aware how acutely she feels the teenager’s pain.
This terrific movie alternates between light-hearted joy and painful darkness. The characters vacillate between strength and despair. Above all, there is courage and dignity in these truly authentic young people who fight for survival and a chance to reverse their predestined fate.
Posted by Kelley M on 08/06/14
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I was hoping that after reading this book, I would look more like Cameron Diaz…  Didn’t work.  All joking aside, I picked up this read, after having watched an interview with Cameron Diaz on Jimmy Fallon.  I was curious about a recipe she mentioned from the book – Shallot Gold, which she claims to put on top of her food all of the time.  I didn’t find this recipe anywhere in the book, sadly.  But, Cameron Diaz’s book did provide me with great reminders about my health & how to try to better my health. 
As I read the book, I tried to figure out how it was humanly possibly to do everything she mentioned in the book.  Then, I researched her staff: a cook, a makeup artist, martial arts professionals, etc.  I think I could look much better if I had that type of staff.  However, I’m sure I could look much better just following some of the tips in this book.  A read worth picking up, if not just for the healthy tips & re-education.
Fitness, Health
Posted by jkadus on 08/01/14
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This time of year is commonly referred to as the "Dog Days of Summer".  If you are so lucky as to have a dog, perhaps you would like to curl up with you pet as you devour your Summer Read in the hammock or under the air conditioning.  If not, curl up with one of these and enjoy your "Dog" Days of Summer.
Posted by jfreier on 07/31/14
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Secret Service agent Ethan Burke is sent to the small Idaho town of Wayward Pines to search for two missing agents, Ethan comes to in a hospital with amnesia. Ethan finds out he was in a car accident and his partner was killed, as his memory comes back he finds out this picture perfect town isn't what it appears to be.
Ethan is unable to get his personal belongings back and can't contact his family or boss. Outwardly everyone and everything looks perfect until he tries to leave and finds the whole town fenced in by a 30 foot electrified fence, keeping who out or who in.
Ethan starts to realize that it was not an accident ending up in this town and the closer he gets to the truth the stranger and more deadly it becomes for his survival, suspenseful, break neck pace and a touch of horror and sci fi, the first in the Wayward Pines Trilogy. Blake Crouch has wriiten several other horror books and is just fun to read.
Posted by jdunc on 07/28/14
I first heard about Borgen through an NPR review and was immediately intrigued by the vivid description of Danish politics. It was Stephen King’s “favorite piece of pop culture in 2012” and hailed as the Danish West Wing……but better.
Borgen, the seat of Danish government, opens with an election and the surprise appointment of Birgitte Nyborg as Prime Minister. Birgitte and her family are thrown into the political spotlight and struggle to maintain a sense of normalcy. Other characters include Kasper Juhl, Birgitte’s cutthroat spin doctor with a dark past, and Katrine Fonsmark, the young news journalist pushing to get ahead while trying to maintain integrity. What is somewhat surprising, is the familiarity you will feel as Denmark addresses similar issues as the US—environment, youth crimes, immigration, and taxes. One of my favorite episodes addressed the issue of Denmark’s relationship with Greenland.
I binge watched all three seasons of this remarkable drama. As the characters’ lives develop and change you see the personal cost of politics and power. The critically acclaimed Danish drama is from the creators of the Danish versions of “The Killing” and “The Bridge” both of which have been remade for American television.
Posted by lsears on 07/27/14
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Fans of Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella may enjoy listening to Have a Nice Guilt Trip on audiobook, as I did, especially because it is read by the authors themselves. Who better knows where to place the right inflection and emphasis on words than the person(s) who wrote the book? 
This mother and daughter team takes turns narrating essays they have penned; each one is on a different topic.  Lisa has more chapters, of course, because she has lived longer and has more to say. Their musings are about the mundane and the profound and are a little Andy Rooney-esque but uniquely told from their perspective.  Women will know what the authors are talking about and men, well, they can listen in and enjoy the writing style. Lisa does not disparage feeling guilty but embraces it.  Francesca marvels at some of her good fortune, which prompts her to feel guilty – proving she is her mother’s daughter.
Humorous, poignant, big-hearted, self-critical and honest; each chapter is a look at life, odd situations, living near a nuclear power plant, the call of jury duty, trying to trim your dog’s toenails, new beginnings in New York City, vitamins, politics, puppies, auditioning swimsuits to take on vacation, celebrating friendships and relationships, and how we get through some of our ordinary and not-so-ordinary days.  This is what our lives are full of, the big and the little, the mix of it all.  I recognize myself in some of the stories, can relate to others, wish I could write a fraction as well as they do, and can feel the love in Francesca’s essay about her crusty but beloved grandmother, Mother Mary, who taught her that family is the heart of everything.
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