Staff Choices

Posted by bweiner on 10/21/16
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This Census-Taker, by British author China Miéville, will confound you with more questions than answers in this surreal narrative, with its strange imagination and moody quality. Miéville creates a space that erupts and burns with originality.

This small, thought provoking tale takes us on a journey with a boy who thinks he witnesses a murder, but is unable to trust his own memory. This story appears to be a fairy tale, yet it defies the usual conventions of that genre. Miéville keenly lets the story unfold through the unique vantage point of the child. His sparse revelations cautiously satisfy, while leaving us unsettled and unsure.

Captivating, challenging, this is Miéville at his finest. If you are willing to send your imagination to new heights, to indulge in beautifully constructed language and navigate a world of complex, peculiar characters, this is the story for you.
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/20/16
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The Dark Valley is precisely what the title says. This dark Danish film, Das finstere Tal (original title), is shot in Val Senales, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy. It features a rising young star, Sam Riley, as the brooding, deeply conflicted, stranger who arrives totally unwanted to a remote valley at the foot of the Alps. When asked what his business is (before rudely being told to turn his horse around and ride back the way he came) he says that he's a photographer.

The answer is problematic on many levels. The valley is a closed community that is ruled by a land-baron and his many sons. Male strangers are always turned away. Since no one knows what a photograph is, the novelty is the new visitor's free pass. Winter is coming and once it sets in, the mountain pass will become closed by the snow. The stranger, Greider, in need of lodging, is forced upon a mother and her soon-to-wed daughter.

This film's powerful in its lack of color. All the scenes are dark and dreary which helps create the feeling that the valley village is encompassed and even consumed by evil. The plot is a mystery that isn't hard to figure out; however, the film's an ode to the gritty, tight Westerns of the '60's and '70's - a period in films where the hero is a loner, fighting incredible odds, non-supported by the suppressed citizens, but is willing to die for his cause. 
This film is a psychological study of man-the-manipulator. It is not for everyone’s taste, but it worth a watch.
Posted by jdunc on 09/29/16
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Comedian Jim Gaffigan is a father of five, self-described fat and in love with food. You may recognize Gaffigan as a recent contributor to CBS Sunday Morning. The only way to take in Food: A Love Story is by audio so you can pick up on all of the voices, sarcasm, and nuances that only a comedian can deliver.

Gaffigan has Midwestern roots and in many ways this has informed his love of food. He provides hilarious observations from traveling around the country as he examines America’s, often unhealthy, relationship with food. The book starts with an examination of regional food. Spoiler alert: The Midwest is the home of Super Bowl Sunday food (pizza, bratwurst, and wings).

He also provides a funny examination of fast food, dessert (especially funny observations on cake), and breakfast food. Gaffigan is unashamed, for the most part, about his food habits. You’ll find yourself laughing out loud and thinking "that is so true."
Posted by Sltader on 09/28/16
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From the Roaring 20s through the 1960s, there was no address more glamorous than New York’s “women only” Barbizon Hotel.  Nicknamed 'The Dollhouse' by the gentlemen of the time, the Barbizon was a combined charm school and dormitory that would shelter a parade of yet-to-be-discovered damsels—Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly, Candice Bergen, Sylvia Plath, Ali MacGraw, and many more.

Fiona Davis’s debut novel, The Dollhouse, alternates chapters between 1952 and present day.

New York City, 2016, Rose Lewis is a journalist who is working at a job she doesn't particularly care for. Her relationship status would be considered complicated at best and she's caring for her elderly father. She's living with her divorced boyfriend in a condo in the renovated Barbizon Hotel. It's here where she meets an elderly woman with a veil covering her face. From the doorman, she learns the woman was involved in a mysterious scandal back in the 1950s. The reporter in Rose is intrigued and can't let this go until she finds out every last detail about who the woman is and what happened to cause her to wear a veil.

New York City, 1952, Darby McLaughlin just stepped off the train from Ohio. Enrolled in Katherine Gibbs, Darby plans on making a career as a secretary. She's naive and has low self-esteem. After a run-in with some mean girls on her floor, Darby is ready to scurry back home when she meets Esme, a maid at the hotel. Esme helps Darby start to break out of her shell and explore new things. But Esme has a domineering influence over Darby that starts to take her down a dangerous path and ultimately leads to tragedy.

Davis illuminates past and present New York City, taking readers all over the city from Brooklyn to Harlem, eating at 50’s cafes, listening to jazz musician greats in nightclubs, and creating a mystery and love story all in one. I was intrigued by the twists and turns of the mystery, but I most enjoyed the history of the building and time period.
Posted by lsears on 09/24/16
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Eleven people board a private jet on Martha’s Vineyard that crashes into coastal waters eighteen minutes after takeoff. Only two survive, a forty-something-year-old man and a four-year-old boy.
Scott is a starving artist invited on board at the last minute and JJ is the son of the man who chartered the flight. Their struggle in the ocean is harrowing. It is night, there is no land to be seen, one seat cushion keeps the boy afloat and Scott uses the stars to guide him as he swims into the dark. After hours in the water, they wash up on the shore. How can Scott and JJ now survive the media frenzy fueled by one of the unethical, rabid talking heads of the same tabloid cable news channel that just lost its CEO in the plane crash? A brewing NTSB investigation potentially implicates Scott in the cause of the crash raising the question of why he was on board in the first place.
Before the Fall is more than I thought it would be as it takes a look at motivations, the arrogance of money, ethics, power, rising from a fall from grace, bonds between people and how we can be lured to deviate into pitfalls and recklessness. At times, the novel moves slowly but as the author takes a look at each passenger and crew member he creates an air of suspense by revealing more details about the people on board.
Author Noah Hawley has written several books, is a screenwriter, producer and is involved with the television mini-series Fargo.
Posted by Uncle Will on 09/16/16
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There's been a rash of decent Western films in the last couple of years. My being an old cowboy, I'm always hunting for the next The Unforgiven starring Burt Lancaster and Audrey Hepburn (1959) or High Noon starring Gary Cooper (1952) or Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven (1992).
The Salvation stars Mads Mikkelsen and Eva Green (pronouned "grain"). Neither actor has more than a few pages of lines in the entire film; however, both give powerful performances as two independent people - broken completely down by evil doers. I've seen everything that these two actors have appeared in since the beginning of their film careers. What a delightful surprise to find them both in the same film.
Rounding out a strong supporting cast is Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jonathan Pryce. This is a film about honor, betrayal, and revenge. It was shot entirely in South Africa. It is an adult film with adult subject matter. It's not what we use to call a "Saturday Afternoon Oater."
Posted by annetteb on 09/04/16
There are so many great ways to enjoy your favorite movies and television shows! One of the most popular ways is through streaming.
Both the Roku 3 and Roku Streaming Stick media players are now available at the Tech Help Desk. With the Roku, you can now stream thousands of movies and TV shows on your HDTV via your home high-speed wifi. Either of these devices will give you a terrific streaming experience. 
Learn more about the Roku here
Posted by Sltader on 08/30/16
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“All humans make mistakes. What determines a person’s character aren’t the mistakes we make. It’s how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses.”

The book It Ends With Us, by Colleen Hoover, for me at least, reminded me how easy it is in life to point a finger. To judge someone or a situation you are on the outside of. So easy to say, “If that was me, I wouldn’t have done that.” But this story shows us that sometimes certain situations aren’t that easy to walk away from and become even messier when emotions and love are involved.
It Ends With Us follows one girl, Lily, from childhood through adulthood. It shows how her childhood made her into the woman she is today. It shows how despite everything you can be brave and strong, you can do better, be better and rise above. You can be the change you want to see in the world. Even when you feel powerless your decisions can change other’s lives. This book is about personal growth and self respect, and it embodied those themes beautifully.
This unbelievably complex, astonishingly real, and heart wrenching novel left me completely speechless.  As cliché as it sounds, it is truly one of those stories that will surely stay with me for a very, very long time.  I don’t want to say too much about the plot or characters. I read this not knowing a thing on either, and was shocked to see how it unfolded. And even though I won’t elaborate on any details and in turn my review is very brief, I really think those who go in blind will appreciate the story and the insanely strong emotion behind it that much more.
Go in with an open mind.

Go in with an open heart. But be warned this story will probably break it.

Posted by bweiner on 08/29/16
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The epic tragedy of the Holocaust has been the subject of innumerable books and movies. The sheer scale of death, deprivation and pain caused by the brutal executions of innocent millions will haunt us and future generations forever.
Then along comes Son of Saul by Hungarian director László Nemes, another entry in the canon of Holocaust material. It is challenging to find originality with this subject, difficult to find a way to retell the story of desolation and sorrow.
This, however, is not one of those stories. This very personal story of a man mourning the loss of a son he barely knew is not about a nation or world in sorrow. The exquisite pain, the fuel of loss, the need for one last moment of dignity and propriety, these things propel Saul Auslander, played with steely, rigid agony by Hungarian actor Géza Röhrig, to find a way to bury his son according to the traditions and laws of his Jewish faith. This story belongs to Saul and his son.
Posted by jdunc on 08/26/16
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If you’re like me and can’t get enough of the Royal family, I highly recommend Christopher Anderson’s newest look behind the palace doors, Game of Crowns: Elizabeth, Camilla, Kate, and the Throne. Anderson is a prolific writer of celebrity biographies, several focused on the Royal family.

The book begins with a predictive glimpse into the future of the monarchy. Anderson provides an imagined scene of how events will unfold once Queen Elizabeth has passed, including a look into Prince Charles’s and Camilla’s coronation.
Anderson then provides a well-researched look into the lives of the queen and future queens: Elizabeth, Camilla, and Kate as they vie for the throne. The book reveals lots of secrets including that Camilla pushed Charles to marry Diana and she had doubts about Kate. The big question is will the Queen abdicate her throne and who will follow her reign? Is it all true? Anderson is very convincing in his writing and presentation. Either way, it is a fun read.
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