Staff Choices

Posted by Trixie on 11/04/14
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“I’m a gamer and I kick arse. No, seriously. I organize a guild online and I’m looking for a few of you chickens to join me.”
 
In Real Life is a coming-of-age graphic novel that opens with Anda’s birthday. She’s a gamer girl who just moved to a new town and is trying to figure out where she fits in. Enter Liza McCombs – she heads an all-girl guild in Coarsegold Online, a massive multiplayer roleplaying game. Not only does the game provide a place for Anda to explore her identity, but it also allows her to investigate socioeconomic issues around the world and close to home.
 
Cory Doctorow knocks it out of the park in his debut graphic novel! He highlights complex topics like gold farming, economic inequality, and labor rights all with a feminist message.
 
Jen Wang’s illustrations are stunning. Real life characters are juxtaposed with their online avatars and in some panels the lines are blurred. The characters’ expressions are exquisite – they convey feeling and humanize the drawings. Her art is dynamic with perfect coloring.
 
I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages. It’s a page turner and will pique interest in “real-life” issues.
 
Posted by crossin on 11/04/14
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The holiday chaos is in full swing. Now that many retailers put out Christmas displays well before Halloween, it feels like Thanksgiving gets lost. I miss the days when stores waited until after Thanksgiving to deck the halls, and people spent turkey day with their families doing activities other than planning their Black Friday shopping. Instead of clipping coupons and heading out after dinner to stand in line at the mall, relax and watch one of these Thanksgiving-themed movies—it might make you realize your family’s not so dysfunctional after all. Happy Thanksgiving!
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 11/01/14
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The Grand Seduction is a film about a harbor in Newfoundland called Tickle Cove. Hard times have befallen on the community.  Most of the men are collecting welfare checks. What was once a proud fishing community is now a place that is struggling to stay solvent.  Brendan Gleason takes on the role of mayor when negotiations turn serious with a plastic company that is interested in building a plant in the harbor that will create many jobs. Besides the bribes that the company executives are demanding, there is another major glitch in awarding Tickle Cove the plastics plant.
 
The glitch is that a doctor must be in residence and there hasn't been a physician living in the harbor for who knows how long. Taylor Kitsch is a doctor who gets coerced into coming to the island where the community tries to give the impression they're something that they're not to entice him to move his practice there.
 
In 1983 Burt Lancaster starred in a cute film call Local Hero about a small harbor in Scotland that Burt's Oil corporation is trying to purchase in its entirety. The Grand Seduction is a cross between Local Hero and Doc Hollywood, which starred Michael J. Fox as a doc-outta-water who to is being wooed to stay in a small town that also is in need of a resident doctor.
 
The lesson learned is about honesty being the best policy.  This lesson only takes 113 minutes, but is worth the time spent.
 
Posted by Stagint on 10/31/14
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“It was bright outside. The acacia tree on the edge of the yard was blooming with white flowers.  Their sweet scent caught the breeze and wafted into the coop, filling Sprout’s heart. Sprout got up and shoved her head through the wires of her cage. Her bare, featherless neck was rubbed raw.  ‘The leaves laid flowers again!’  Sprout was envious. If she squinted, she could make out the light green leaves that had matured and given birth to fragrant flowers. She’d spotted the blooming acacia tree the very day she was shut in the coop.”
 
So begins Sun-Mi Hwang’s book, The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly.  At first, it seems to be only a fable about a hen named Sprout.  She dreams of just once hatching one of her eggs and raising her own chick.  As she orchestrates her escape form the coop and then faces life outside with all its real problems and challenges, Sprout even wonders if this was what she really wanted.  But Sprout is a courageous and spunky women’s libber who will not give up on her dream.
Sun-Mi Hwang writes an amazing story which pulls us into this fable about life, struggles, the joys of friendship and motherhood.  Her style seems very simple, but on a second look, although, she has used words sparingly, she created a world we can see and feel.
I recommend this wonderful little book which is really an allegory about modern life.  Sun-Mi Hwang is from Korea where this book has been on the best seller’s list for more than 10 years and has been made into an animated film.  This book speaks to adults as well as to children… perhaps even more to adults. The illustrations commissioned for this English-language edition enrich our imagination as we progress through the book.
 
Posted by Kelley M on 10/31/14
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It’s the perfect type of day for a book like Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory.  A little gory, a little creepy…  However, you will learn a bunch by reading this book.  Caitlin Doughty’s book makes you think about a topic that most folks like to avoid: death.  This young woman decided to become a mortician at the age of 23.  The book takes a look at not only the adventures of working at a crematory/mortuary, but also gets into the history of rituals surrounding death, both internationally & nationally. 
 
This book just might change your perspective on what should happen to you after you pass away.  The author makes a depressing topic an interesting and entertaining one.  The book is witty and a quick read.
 
If you liked Mary Roach’s book Stiff or the television series Six Feet Under, you might like this read…
 
Non-Fiction
Posted by Ultra Violet on 10/23/14
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A witty, fun, surprising detective story. What at first seems to be a bit of a Sherlock knock-off, quickly takes an original turn. R.F. Jackaby is a detective in 19th Century New England, but he isn't a classic detective. In fact, he misses many obvious clues that his sharp assistant, Abigail Rook, picks up on. Jackaby can see magical creatures. Not so useful in run of the mill cases, but invaluable when the murders being investigated are being perpetrated by an ancient paranormal creature. Jackaby's ability to recognize a banshee and elicit help from a ghost make up for his awkward ways.
 
This would be a great light read for fans of Doctor Who. There is a lovable, unflappable quirkiness about Jackaby and Abagail is a worthy assistant. Even though this book is in Kids' World (no foul language, sweet romance, light on the gore) it is suitably intelligent for teen or adult readers as well.
Posted by jmurrow-res on 10/20/14
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Branching out from his usual jokes about manatees and hot pockets, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan’s Dad is Fat is a smart, heartwarming, and side-splittingly funny book that details all the joys and horrors of life with five young children.  Written with his usual wit, Gaffigan covers everything from cousins ("celebrities for little kids"), the horrific realities of vacationing at Disneyworld, and the bond that comes from reading The Giving Tree with his young son (as well as his children’s insightful comments on their father’s weight, hence the title of the book). The inclusion of dozens of photographs featuring Gaffigan's adorable family only serves to make this book an all the more enjoyable read.
 
For parents and non-parents alike, such as myself, Dad is Fat is a hilarious, heartwarming cry for help from a man who has realized he and his wife are outnumbered in their own home.
 
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/14/14
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Looking for a movie whose mission might make you feel good to be alive? Try actor/director Jon Favreau's latest creation Chef.  It is loosely based on the book L.A. Son : My Life, My City, My Food  by Master Chef Roy Choi. This movie has all the necessary ingredients:  a great soundtrack, perfect casting, clever script, a lovable kid, fantastic editing and if you like to cook, there's tons of tips. 
 
This movie has been categorized as a road-trip-flick, but it is much more. It tries to show the importance of following one's dreams, no matter what the cost.  
 
Before sitting down to watch this film, just make sure you've had a big meal, or you're gonna have to plan on pausing it before it's over, to run to the kitchen.
Posted by dnapravn on 10/08/14
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The five talented and extremely energetic hosts of the ABC television show, The Chew, are back with a new cookbook just in time for the holidays. Whether you are thinking about your upcoming Halloween party, a Thanksgiving feast, or celebrations beyond those two, you will find them covered in this book.
 
The format of this cookbook is one complete menu per holiday or event. Recipes range from cocktails to dessert, and everything in between. The book is filled with photographs of both food and the antics of The Chew hosts. One thing I particularly liked about the book was that beside your standard ingredient lists and prep times, there was a skill level attached to each recipe. There are also general entertainment tips and a few decoration and gift ideas thrown in.
 
I found this to be a colorful and fun book to get me thinking about the festivity-filled months ahead. This is the third companion book from the show. Be sure to check out the others as well. Happy Holidays!
Posted by Uncle Will on 10/04/14
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Looking for something different to watch that is not the latest, mass-produced, run-of-the-mill product of our Hollywood Film Factory?  A film that is off-center, dark, disturbing, thoughtful, well-acted, and futuristic? A film whose script, at times, is reminiscent of a Seth MacFarlane Family Guy TV episode?

Look no further. The Rover is directed by Australia's David Michôd, whose first film, Animal Kingdom, won 39 international awards in 2011.  

The Rover stars Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. It's a little like Mad Max meets The Road. The setting is recent future Australia, 10 years after some sort of apocalyptic event. Pearce is a loner who has his car stolen by three desperate armed men who just committed a violent robbery and are running from what appears to be the local martial law. They have just left a 4th gang member, Pattinson, for dead, at the scene of the heist. The two stars join forces and pursue the 3 villains.

 
Pearce's character has so much baggage that it would make even Paris Hilton blush. The interesting thing about this film is that it takes its time to unpack all that baggage. Pattinson appears to be valiantly trying to distance himself from his past pretty-boy parts (as in the Twilight Saga). This performance showcases a dramatic range that will shock his fans and critics.
 
This a stark film with an unforgettable ending.  
 
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