Staff Choices

Posted by BARB W on 07/17/19
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Indecent is a play about a play, or more precisely, about a response to that play based on fear. On Broadway, in 1923, the play God of Vengeance by Sholem Asch debuted. It had played to many audiences already, but on this night, the police arrested the company on charges of indecency stemming from the intimate, joyous love scene between two women.

Indecent chronicles the development and implementation of this play, and the desire by Asch to display the diversity within the Jewish population and dispel xenophobic views. Sadly, this conflict maintains current relevancy.

Playwright Paula Vogel pulls all the emotion and intention possible from her characters, and we find ourselves breathing the same air they do. Indecent, nominated for the Best Tony in 2017, does what theater does best: perpetuate the relentless pursuit of truth in art.
Posted by Alisa S on 06/26/19
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The River by Peter Heller is one of the best books I've read so far this year, but it is hard to classify. It is in parts a riveting suspense tale, an outdoor adventure, and an elegiac ode to nature.  But mostly this novel is a beautiful, heartrending story of friendship between two young men. Best friends and avid outdoorsmen Wynn and Jack are on a canoe trip in Northern Canada when everything starts to go horribly wrong. They must call on all their survival skills and instincts as they are forced to outrun a vicious forest fire while simultaneously trying to save the life of a woman who has been brutally attacked. Facing constant danger from fellow men and nature, both Wynn and Jack must confront their deepest held values, revealing fault lines in their friendship. The River would make an awesome action film...I'm already casting the two main characters in my mind.
Posted by NealP on 06/24/19
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Todd Milstead is a real jerk.  He is egotistical, he drinks too much, and he cheats on his wife.  He thinks he is a great writer, but has not published anything of significance.  One night, while showing off to friends at one of his parties, he quotes a paragraph from a book All My Colors – a book that may or may not exist.  Astounded that no one has ever heard of it, and with a perfect recollection, he publishes it himself to instant acclaim.  Then things get weird...

Written by Emmy-award winning author David Quantick (Veep) and set in DeKalb, IL in 1979 All My Colors is a darkly humorous, twisted, and terrifying novel that shows the painful price one pays for their actions.
Posted by SherriT on 06/14/19
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Summer is wedding season and Tif Marcelo’s book The Key To Happily Ever After is the perfect book to give you an inside look into wedding planning.

This lighthearted family drama is about three sisters who own a wedding planning business and discover love around the same time. Set in Washington, D.C. the de la Rosa sisters, Marisol, Jane and Pearl find that working together comes with its challenges. There is some family conflict and a little bit of drama, but overall it shows the closeness sisters share even when they are fighting.
This charming, fun, and, at times, genuinely moving, trip down the aisle(s) is full of romance, family drama and unexpected twists.

The Key To Happily Ever After is a perfect one to add to your summer reading list to enjoy on the beach or while sipping lemonade on your front porch.
Posted by bpardue on 06/11/19
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The progressive/psychadelic band Gong has a long discography, going back to the late 1960s, and a massive family tree of members, ex-members, solo/spinoff projects, and beyond. Before his passing in 2015, leader/founding member Daevid Allen instructed the current lineup to keep the band going and make the music their own. "The Universe Also Collapses" is the band's second post-Allen album (after 2016's "Rejoice, I'm Dead," which might be seen as a bit of an Allen tribute), and they really hit their stride here. There are trademark Gong sounds, such as the ghostly "glissando guitar" parts, along with searing guitar & saxophone solos and tight ensemble playing. The lyrics all revolve roughly around the themes of quantum physics, rebirth, the here & now, etc. However, much of "The Universe..." also has a harder edge than Gong's earlier work, giving it all a more modern feel. Album closer "The Elemental" feels like some sort of lost, longer Robyn Hitchcock song, and gives the band a roadmap to a sound that's compatible with their past, but definitely forward-looking. A great addition to an already expansive catalog.
Posted by jonf on 06/06/19
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Crown Jewel is the 2nd Simon Riske thriller. Riske is a former gangster who redeems himself , works in high finance and also repairs high end autos. Simon also works to solve problems for rich clients who desire discretion and results. This leads him to take a job finding a group of card cheaters at the casino in Monaco.
Along the way , he meets a German princess with some problems of her own which tie into his initial mission. Simon does it all, part James Bond , and part Jack Reacher, he deals with organized crime from Albania, wealthy but corrupt gamblers and deals with them with strength and humor. A great summer beach read, fast, great locales and a love story. Christopher Reich is a master of page turners.
Posted by LucyS on 06/06/19
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Erin Lee Carr is the daughter of New York Times journalist and author David Carr. In this case, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Erin is drawn to journalism and documentary filmmaking, her father is her guiding light. Preserved in emails and texts his advice to her is tender, loving, incredibly supportive, eloquent, direct, gruff, blunt, hard-hitting, spot-on and delivered with just the right touch whenever Erin reaches out to him.

Journalism is a competitive, work hard, play hard environment, constantly changing with breaking news and evolving with the rise of social media. Life is not easy. Both Erin and her father got caught in the trap of losing themselves to addictions and addictive behavior. How do you break free? Erin attributes her hard-won success to her father, leading her forward.  He opened some doors for her professionally but she had to do the work. She has spoken for a TEDx talk about her work and has directed two documentaries for HBO. After his sudden death when Erin is 26 years old, she is stopped short, forced to look at her life and actions closely without filters.
All That You Leave Behind is a candid, moving memoir to celebrate fathers, families and I think this is a good read for high school and college graduates.

In the author’s acknowledgements, she includes a thank you and directive to her readers: “YOU (for reading this; now go write someone you love an email).”
Memoir Debut
Posted by jlasky on 05/31/19
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My love of food memoirs started when I read Ruth Reichl’s “Tender at the Bone” many years ago. In the years since, I have devoured all of Reichl’s books as well as many other memoirs by food writers, restaurant critics and chefs. Save Me the Plums is about her tenure as the Editor-in-Chief of ‘Gourmet’ magazine for 10 years, and its subsequent closing.

Reichl takes us through the endless machinations Conde` Nast used to woo her, as well as the behind the scenes world of magazine publishing. As the NY Times points out, Ruth was shocked at the perks “Apparently they pay for everything,” Reichl informed her husband. “Country clubs … hairdressers, travel. You name it.” With humor and detail she outlines what it takes to publish a magazine with the  history of Gourmet. The politics, the hierarchy, the eccentricities and the constant topic of money take up enormous amounts of time, not to mention all the creativity to breathe life back into this icon.

As with all of her books, her writing flows easily, but it’s all about the food. She talks about food, she thinks about food, she eats food and she cooks food. Thankfully, there are recipes.

Humorous, informative and simply delicious, Save Me the Plums is a great summer read.
Posted by Alisa S on 05/29/19
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Murder,dance girls, killer tigers, missing fingers, and more!  The Night Tiger by Yangze Choo is a beautifully written tale, part family drama mixed with mystery and folklore, set in 1930s Malaysia under British rule. Ji Lin is a young woman forced to moonlight as a dance hall girl to help pay off her mother's secret gambling debts, while her adored stepbrother Shin gets to go to medical school in Singapore. Meanwhile, an orphaned young houseboy named Ren is on a mission to recover a missing finger that belonged to his former master, a British doctor who has passed away. There is a magical thread that links together the main characters, putting them in grave danger as a man-eating tiger roams at night and people start
mysteriously dying around them. This novel is steeped in magical realism, pulling from Chinese and Malay folk tales, numerology, and superstitions. 
Fans of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, another romance with plenty of magic, should also greatly enjoy The Night Tiger.
Posted by jlasky on 05/10/19
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An American Marriage heartbreakingly depicts racial injustice in modern America. Up and coming in their careers, and newly married, Roy and Celestials lives are thrown into chaos one fateful night when Roy is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Tayari Jones likens it to the Odyssey. Odysseus embarks on a challenging journey, hoping to find his faithful wife waiting for him.

The challenge of maintaining the marriage affects the couple as well as their parents, families and friends. Jones wanted people to understand that for black Americans, "Injustice in the criminal justice system — it's just in the air. Like hurricanes if you live on the East Coast or earthquakes if you live out West. It's just something that is." The possibility of being snapped up into the system is always there, hovering.

The story is beautifully written. Jones is a remarkable writer. Using alternate voices helps the reader to see the circumstances and viewpoints through each narrator. If you enjoy character-driven, compelling stories, this will be a great addition to your reading list.
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