Staff Choices

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
Posted by bweiner on 10/18/13
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Imagine succulent short ribs, braised in broth with the fragrant flavorings of garlic and onions. The tender beef, bathing in warm broth, is then topped with toasted sour dough bread and golden melted Gruyere cheese. Sound good?
 
Imagine no longer, instead pick up a copy of Food Network Chef Alex Guarnaschelli's cookbook, Old-School Comfort Food. To further delight your taste buds, pair this with some beer-braised carrots, small tender morsels in a sweet beer glaze with exotic spices. Finish off your meal with a sour cream pumpkin pie, the sweetness of pumpkin perfectly paired with the tangy richness of sour cream, all embraced in a delectable crust.
 
Acclaimed Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, one of the Food Network's Iron Chefs, shares her personal food journey with us in this wonderful collection of "comfort food" recipes. There are inspirational stories of sharing the kitchen with her mom, and practical advice about must-have kitchen equipment and stock food items. The cold weather is approaching fast; start cooking these gratifying and satisfying meals now!
Posted by mothic on 10/17/13
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Let me start by saying that I don’t like to be scared. I was 14 the last time I watched a horror movie and A Nightmare on Elm Street truly did give me nightmares for a week. So I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to the horror genre. Help for the Haunted, however, provided just the perfect level of creepy without venturing into Jason Vorhees jumping out of a closet territory.
 
In Help for the Haunted, Sylvie Mason’s parents have an unusual occupation—helping “haunted souls” find peace. After receiving a strange phone call one winter’s night, they leave the house and are later murdered in an old church in a horrifying act of violence. And while the Mason’s story is firmly rooted in the supernatural world, this truly is a coming of age story.
 
Sylvie and Rose Mason are compelling characters whose struggles with finding their place in their family and in their world are written in an authentic and relatable way. From the moment Sylvie and Rose’s parents are killed, I was invested in this story. I felt like a detective who was finding clues and needed to keep going to help these two lost girls. Each new clue added layers that deepened the mystery and revealed the secrets that the family members had hidden away within themselves. While all of the clues didn’t add up perfectly, the story is eminently entertaining and readable with characters that you can’t help but root for. Don’t wait for Halloween! Read it now.
 
Posted by jfreier on 10/12/13
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Fans of William Kent Krueger's Cork O'Connor series will not be disappointed with the newest book in the series, Tamarack County. Cork is called to consult on the mysterious disappearance of the wife of a powerful judge. The missing woman at first seems unrelated to disturbing events that have recently happened to Cork's family and friends, but the more he investigates the woman's disappearance the more he thinks he could be wrong.
 
 
Cork's son and his girlfriend are run off the road by an unknown driver and then the dog of the girlfriend is found murdered at her house. More threats follow as Cork's family life becomes more chaotic. Cork is dealing with the sudden return of his eldest daughter Anne,who has left her order before becoming the nun that was her dream.
 
 
The threats against Corks' family escalate and Cork discovers a connection between the missing woman and a twenty year old cold case. This is a multi layered mystery which also combines the the struggle for Cork to keep his family together. William Kent Krueger gets better with every book.
Mystery
Posted by dnapravn on 10/09/13
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In Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog, (etc.), Delia Ephron writes a series of autobiographical essays about love, life, and family. I had never read anything by her before, although I will confess to having seen the movie You've Got Mail more than once. Okay...way more than once.
 
The essays range from funny to serious and introspective. They all feel very honest. In the emotional "Losing Nora", Ephron writes about the loss of her older sister, Nora Ephron. You can feel the pain of her loss as she writes about their complicated and loving relationship. In "If My Dad Could Tweet" she writes about how much her dad would have loved Twitter had he been alive to see it. Other essays have her confessing her love of bakeries and addressing the concept of "having it all", how overwhelming it can be to keep up with the updates on all of your devices, and a hilarious essay in which she vows to never order Christmas presents online again.
 
I found this book to be a quick read; mostly funny and often touching. I am glad I picked it up. Now excuse me while I go find my DVD copy of You've Got Mail.

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