Staff Choices

S.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 11/19/13
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The authors called this their love letter to the written word. It is difficult to explain this book properly with being able to show it to you. And not just the cover, but the elegantly designed slipcase, the margin notes printed in different colors and in different hand-writings, the various postcards, doodled-on napkins and obituaries nestled between the pages at key points. S. is a collection of clues, there's even a decoder.
 
The story is about a woman who finds a book in the stacks of a library that has been written in. She responds to the notes and leaves the book for the owner to find. He responds to her, and the conversation begins. They are both interested in the author of the book they are writing in and their correspondence revolves around his mysterious life and career, at first. Eventually, they find a deeper connection.
 
J.J. Abrams is a Hollywood director and it shows. This is a thrilling mystery, full of cinematic intrigue. Both plots are compelling, though the contemporary story may attract more readers, the book they are writing in, The Ship of Theseus, is a very believable as an historical sea story in its own right.
 
This is such a fascinating format. It's well worth checking out just to thumb through, but it makes a very satisfying read if you can stay focused on the story with all that's going on.
Posted by mothic on 11/15/13
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Do you like to debate what makes art “art”? Then this is the story for you. This family drama introduces us to the Morels -Arthur, Penny and Will. They are a complicated group whose problems seem to stem from their strong feelings about art. When Arthur publishes his second book, a barely fictionalized account of his life with a shocking ending, his whole world turns upside down.
 
This story challenges us as reader to think about how we define art and how far we are willing to stretch that definition. An astute observation by a character in the book is that she sees “art and commerce at opposite ends of the hall.” This seems to be the thrust of the debate in this book. The Morels is a complex, layered story that I enjoyed even though the middle becomes a bit bogged down with background information and occasionally the writing feels heavy-handed (such as naming the main character “Art”). The ending, however, is surprising and intriguing and completely worth the wait.
 
 
Posted by jfreier on 11/14/13
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Madeline Hart, a rising star in the British political arena, has gone missing. She has been kidnapped and, in a message to the Prime Minister the kidnappers are demanding ten million pounds or she will die in seven days. Gabriel Allon, master Israeli assassin and art restorer is called in by the Prime Minister to repay a favor and find Madeline. Gabriel is told that Madeline was his mistress and someone is trying to topple the British government.
 
Gabriel brings in his trusted team and connections to various criminal elements to track her down before it's too late. Gabriel travels to Marseilles, the mountains of Provence. and finally to Moscow to save the Prime Minister and the English Girl. This book is another great thriller by Daniel Silva.
 
Suspense Spy
Posted by dnapravn on 11/13/13
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If you are anything like me you are having a difficult time waiting for the new season of Downton Abbey to begin. I can't wait to discover what's in store for the Crawley's and their servants this season. To make the time pass a little more quickly, you may want to get your fix of domestics by reading Jo Baker's latest novel, Longbourn. In it she imagines the belowstairs life of the Bennet household, the beloved family of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
 
While Pride and Prejudice follows the comings and goings of the Bennet family, Longbourn focuses on their small, often overworked domestic staff. Mrs. Hill, the housekeeper, does her best to keep everything running smoothly with the help of her aging husband, two young housemaids, Sarah and Polly, and the new footman, James. The novel focuses primarily on Sarah, who is bound and determined to decipher the mysterious appearance of the new footman in addition to completing all of her household duties.  
 
This was a fun, quick read that, in my opinion, stayed respectful to Austen's beloved classic. Enjoy! The Crawley family and their servants will be back in no time.
Posted by annetteb on 11/09/13
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"Have you ever felt like you were a little bit different? Like you had something unique to offer the world, if you could just get people to see it. Then you know exactly how it felt to be me." 
 
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is a film that embraces quirks, individuality, and good humor. It is loosely based on a children's book with the same title, by Judi Barrett.  In this story, we follow protagonist Flint Lockwood's dream of being an amazing inventor. Unfortunately, his inventions do not always succeed as planned. In the meantime, his colorful life and enthusiasm clash hilariously with his drab hometown, Swallow Falls, whose only claim to fame is sardine-canning culture. When the world realizes sardines are "super gross," the citizens are stuck eating all the leftover sardines. Pickled, fried, poached, boiled, juiced... Cue our hero!
 
Flint manages to create the FLDSMDFR, which takes in clouds and spits out delicious food. Best of all, it works! So, naturally, Flint's invention takes the town by storm. Among other delightful characters, the food weather captures the attention of amateur weather girl, Sam Sparks, who hides her intelligence behind a perky exterior, and quickly finds a kindred spirit in Flint. 
 
But is bigger always better? Do we really need to tweak and lose our true selves to please others?
 
Flint's story is hilarious and heartwarming, and frankly, I enjoyed it more than the latest Pixar releases. The script and jokes are perfect for children and adults--I had to pause the film several times because I couldn't stop laughing! This film doesn't solely depend upon A-list stars to draw in an audience. I found that the characters were beautifully developed in this tale of parental recognition, portion sizes, and self-confidence. 
 
Bring a smile and your biggest appetite for adventure when you see this film! After all, "There's diem to carpe!"
 
 
 
 
 
DVD
Posted by crossin on 11/05/13
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Unless you live under a rock, you’re aware that November 22 marks the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. It’s interesting that there’s still such interest in JFK, considering that the majority of today’s Americans weren’t even alive in 1963.
 
My friend, Molly, and I are party of that majority, and even though our teachers didn’t spend much time covering Kennedy, we went through a phase in our teens when we were completely fascinated by his assassination and all the conspiracy surrounding it. We filled ourselves with JFK-related trivia: 
On what side did Kennedy part his hair? The left. 
What was Lee Harvey Oswald’s wife’s name? Marina.
Where is Jack Ruby buried? Westlawn Cemetery in Norridge.
 
Whether you personally remember that somber day or not, I recommend you check out one of the many DVDs about John F. Kennedy from the library’s collection. Oh, and if you weren’t yet born in 1963, I suggest you don’t tell those who were that they’re outnumbered—some of my older colleagues were not too thrilled when I mentioned this.
 
Posted by Ultra Violet on 10/25/13
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This 2000 year history of paper is told through personal stories of paper-makers, fascinating historical tidbits, and the author's near-obsession with paper, books and the written word. It's not a perfectly linear history. Basbanes writes about a trip to China, and the amazing families of paper-makers he met there, and tells a bit of the paper-making history in that region, before going on to talking about Japan and the spiritual connection the Japanese people have with paper. He tells a story about how paper was a key component in the only deaths on American soil incurred during WWII because of an attack by the Japanese. I don't want to say too much about it, because it was quite a surprising story. Then it's on to France and the first manned hot air balloon flight, and a bit about how paper influenced the development of Islam.
 
On Paper is not just a dry history book, but a collection of stories about people from all over the world, and throughout the last 2000 years, who's lives have been changed by, or dedicated to, the art and craft of paper-making. From toilet tissue, to sticky notes, to handmade art paper, to ornate wrapping paper, we all use mass quantities of paper every day without a second thought. Knowing a bit about how it all came about and how all of the various types of paper are produced makes this a great book for readers who are interested in art or books, but also for people who are just interested in history in general. Nicholas Basbanes' conversational, story-telling style makes this book very readable for most people who enjoy nonfiction.
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/24/13
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In 1955 my hero was Davy Crockett. Back then I even thought I knew the words to the Disney TV theme "The Ballad Of Davy Crockett" by Bill Hayes. My version went something like this:  "...Born on a mountain top in Tennessee, greatest state in the land of the free. Killed him a 'bar' when he was only three. Ran around the woods in his coonskin BVDs!..."  Hey, I was only five years old. The days of the coonskin craze have long passed.  So, imagine my delight when I found  Bob Thompson's new biography Born On A Mountaintop: On The Road With Davy Crockett And The Ghosts Of The Wild Frontier in our Marketplace.
 
Bob Thompson, former feature writer for the Washington Post, has an easy-going writing style. Thompson explores the many myths and magic of the Davy Crockett lore. Reading this book is like watching a bloodhound tracking a scent...no stone is left unturned.
 
One chapter outlines why Walt Disney chose Fess Parker to star in his TV studio's project after viewing a scene from the 1954 film Them. There is discussion about why it took so long for John Wayne to complete his 1960 film The Alamo. And of course there is the comparison between Wayne's interpretation of Davy Crockett and Billy Bob Thornton's, as viewed in his 2004 release of The Alamo.
 
In a lot of ways Davy Crockett helped perpetrate many of the popular myths about his life. One notion that is still controversial today is how he died at the Alamo. If he was alive today, he most likely could add "spin doctor" to his resume.
Posted by Trixie on 10/22/13
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All of you Walking Dead fans get your zombie fix throughout the year, but for those who prefer to save zombies for the month of October, I’ve got a great book and new movie for you: Issac Marion’s Warm Bodies.

Warm Bodies is a hilarious retelling of the classic Romeo and Juliet love story. R, zombie protagonist, is an endearing, likeable character. His narration, which is mostly through thoughts since his zombie speaking skills are lacking, is genuine and poignant. Readers get an honest view of what's on his mind, his feelings of loss and longing. Julie, daughter of the general tasked with keeping the living safe from the undead, serves as a perfect foil. She is fearless, not afraid to speak her mind and even challenges her father when they disagree. Marion tells an unlikely zombie tale, one where the “happy ending” doesn’t involve extermination of the undead.

What’s the verdict? The book is way better than the movie! Don’t get me wrong: Jonathan Levine did a great job on the screenplay and direction. It’s just tough to translate a book mostly narrated through zombie thoughts into a film. The sweet and quirky qualities of the book come across as hokey in the movie. Levine does capture the spirit of the book and presents an uncommon zombie story.

If you’re looking for a heartwarming story, creative/unique zombie tale, or enjoy classic retellings, Warm Bodies is for you! The movie is worth checking out, but the book is where it’s at!

Not enough zombies in your life? The Hub is celebrating Zombie October. Stop in and join us for one or all of our zombie-themed activities!
 
Posted by bpardue on 10/19/13
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Christopher Buckley's universe seems to be populated pretty much by conniving insiders with not much of a moral compass--which makes them very entertaining.  In 2012's "They Eat Puppies, Don't They?," we meet Walter "Bird" McIntyre, a lobbyist (with a secret yearning to be a Tom Clancy-like novelist) who's been tasked by his defense contractor employers to create a U.S.-China conflict in order to justify the mind-boggling cost of a super-secret weapons project.  He works with ultra-neocon Angel Templeton (of the Institute for Continuing Conflict) to start a rumor that Chinese agents are trying to assassinate the Dalai Lama. Pretty soon, US and Chinese officials are scrambling to get ahead of the story, and things start to spiral out of control.  McIntyre's personal situation is complicated by the fact that his wife, Myndi, has just been made a member of the US Equestrian team--after great financial investment on Bird's part--and is looking forward to a major competition in China, the kind of thing that gets canceled when two nations ramp up the military rhetoric.  The characters are colorful, the dialog snappy.  It's a quick, entertaining read, and reminds me a bit of the work of Carl Hiaasen.
humor, politics

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