Staff Choices

Posted by jmurrow on 04/24/14
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After having survived the horrors of the mysterious Antarctic, Alan Moore's latest installment of his Nemo miniseries sees the pirate queen and her lover battling through a nightmarish World War II era Berlin to rescue their family from the Adenoid Hynkel
 
Whereas the earlier installment took its' inspiration from the Boy's-own adventures of the 1920s, this outing sees the world through the celluloid lens of the German Impressionist films of the era.  While Alan sticks to the fast-paced adventure format of the previous installment, O'Neill outdoes himself painting feverish vistas of totalitarian eye candy: from vast subterranean lairs split with zigzagging shadows right out of a Robert Wiene film, to the dehumanized human figures that pass under vertiginous buildings and phantasmagoric floating transport ships.  A rip-roaring adventure, this latest installment is a welcome addition to Alan and Kevin's League of Extraordinary series. 
 
 
Posted by bweiner on 04/23/14
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Desperation can drive anyone to make disastrous decisions. In The Vanishing, by Wendy Webb, Julia Bishop has reached a crossroad in her life. Her husband Jeremy has cheated countless innocent people in a fraudulent investment scheme. His subsequent suicide has left Julia vulnerable and exposed.
 
When the mysterious Amaris Sinclair offers her an opportunity to exit her past and renew her future, she jumps at the chance. But her move to the centuries old estate of Havenwood may be her last. The mysterious mansion holds more questions than answers, and the whispering walls begin to close in on her...
 
Experience the mystery and terror of this tangled tale by an appealingly articulate Midwestern author.
 
One word of caution: You may want to lock the door and leave the lights on...
horror, Mystery
Posted by jdunc on 04/23/14
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From the critically acclaimed author Emma Donoghue comes the first novel since the best-selling book Room. Frog Music opens in 1876 San Francisco with the murder of Jenny Bonnet, a brash cross-dressing American frog catcher. Her friend and exotic dancer Blanche Beunon witnesses the murder and tries to bring the killers to justice while searching for her infant son.
 
Perhaps what makes the novel most fascinating is that Donoghue has taken facts from the real murder and weaved them into her novel. Many of her characters were real people that she pulled from newspapers articles and court documents from the time. The characters in Frog Music are vivid and seedy with conflicting internal desires. Blanche wants to be a loving mother, but is continually frustrated and annoyed with her infant son. She wants to be in control of her earnings, but is letting her “fancy men” take advantage of her and use the money to gamble. At the heart of the story is a friendship between two women, but as Blanche realizes, Jenny was a person that was “easy to enjoy, but hard to know”. As I wound through the tale, I became hooked on trying to solve the murder and drawn into the lives of so many vivid characters. Woven through the book are song lyrics of the time, including French, American, and Creole folk songs.
 
While Emma Donoghue is most widely known for her bestselling book Room, she really shines in her works of historical fiction. I would highly recommend Astray, a collection of short stories based on historical events. Here is a brief interview with Emma Donoghue where she discusses the actual events of the crime and her research process of writing Frog Music.
Posted by Ultra Violet on 04/22/14
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If you hate math as much as I do, but have an interest in astronomy and physics, this is the book for you. Tagmark clearly explains his theories of a multiverse and how our physical reality is mathematical in nature, without being boring or overly academic. The math is presented in a manner that enables you to see it in a whole new way. This book is a synthesis of popular science, hard science and autobiography.
 
Tagmark's obvious exuberance about his subject shines through and stokes the reader's excitement about these facts and theories as well. Not only is Our Mathematical Universe a fun book to peruse if you are a novice science geek, like me, but someone with a serious interest and understanding of astrophysics could read it cover to cover and have quite a bit of food for thought.
Posted by Kelley M on 04/18/14
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“History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another’s pain in the heart our own.”
 
This book is loosely based on the real lives of two abolitionist sisters, Sarah & Nina Grimke.  Sarah & Nina grew up in Charleston, South Carolina during the decline of the plantation era.  The novel spans over 35 years & tells the story of not just Sarah & Nina, but also the slaves that their family owned.  We watch as Sarah, Nina, and Hetty “Handful” Grimke (their slave) move past the social barriers placed upon them (the Invention of Wings), being ostracized along the way.

The author, Sue Monk Kidd, adds fictional dimensions to the history of the Grimkes.  Through these fictional accounts, we learn a lot about actual history.  We become acquainted with the relationships between children slaves & plantation owners’ children, religious dynamics of the era, family relationships, the lives of slaves and the abolitionist movement as the story progresses.  The plot, while slow to start, really picks up momentum about halfway through. 

If you liked The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom or Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini, you might want to give this read a try…
 
Posted by bpardue on 04/17/14
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All is Lost (also available in Blu-ray) could also be subtitled "just when you think it can't get worse."  Robert Redford's unnamed solo sailor is in full crisis-management mode after his sailboat is severely damaged by a collision with a drifting cargo container. He's a resourceful guy, and he systematically (and wordlessly) goes through the process of doing what's necessary to manage the crisis. However, some crises just can't be managed. Pretty soon, it's just an all-out struggle to survive in the face of dwindling supplies, bad weather and even a few sharks. Despite having only one character and almost no speaking (apart from a few well-placed expletives and pleas), All is Lost holds your attention through its harrowing and (presumably) realistic depiction of being held hostage to the sea's whim. Frankly, I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did, but I was glad I watched.
Posted by jfreier on 04/12/14
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King and Maxwell are back for the sixth book in this series by David Baldacci.
Tyler Wingo a teen is given the tragic news that his father was killed in Afghanistan, but later hears from him after his supposed death. Tyler hires Sean and Michelle to investigate and it leads to a larger and more dangerous conspiracy that puts all three in danger.
 
The two are lead to higher ups in the Pentagon and to the White House in this typically fast paced style of Baldacci, the relationship of Sean and Michelle deepens and actually adds to the story, as does their protection of Tyler, a bit of a slow start, but the pace picks up and is another easy but escapist read. Sorry to hear the T.V series King and Maxwell was cancelled.
Posted by dnapravn on 04/10/14
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Every once in a while I get ambitious about cooking, much to my family's delight (or dismay...I'm not 100% sure). So when I discovered 200 Skills Every Cook Must Have: The Step by Step Methods that Will Turn a Good Cook into a Great Cook by Clara Paul and Eric Treuille, I was intrigued. How many of those skills did I already possess and what new skills could I learn?
 
200 Skills Every Cook Must Have is an illustrated guide laid out in a simple step-by-step format. The book concentrates on skills rather than recipes, although it does contain its fair share of basic recipes for sauces and such. Organized by topic, it covers a wide range of cooking skills from very basic skills such as separating eggs and peeling and dicing, to more challenging skills like steaming lobster and making soufflés.
 
The book contained many skills I already knew how to do (thank goodness!), as well as things I know I will never need to do, such as spatchcocking a chicken, which is to remove the back and breast bone so the chicken can be laid out flat. Seriously? More importantly though, it was filled with tips and tricks I'd like to try, as well as things I've done once or twice but am certainly no expert at, such as making gravy or hollandaise sauce.
 
All in all, I found that this book has something for everyone and proves to be a great guide for all skill levels. Bon appétit!
cooking
Posted by lsears on 04/07/14
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Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mojave, California to the Bridge of the Gods in Oregon is not for the faint of heart.  A chance encounter of purchasing a trail guide sparked a quest that changed the author’s life.

It is 1995.  Cheryl Strayed is 26 years old, suffering from a deep grief for her mother’s death, dealing with poor life decisions, experiencing a growing disconnection from her family and is newly divorced.  These events bring her to such a low point in her life that she begins this trek to walk 1,100 miles that will take her three months to complete.   The trail is rugged, remote and unforgiving.   She does not see another person for her first eight days on the trail.  She has never been so alone.  Dealing with nature’s elements and carrying the weight of everything she needs on her back take a physical and emotional toll.  And yet she presses on through extreme weather conditions, blisters, detours, inexperience, self-doubt, exhaustion and fear.  It’s as if she needed to purge everything from her past and punish herself while doing it so she could move ahead with her life. 

This memoir is beautifully written with honesty, sadness and a little bit of humor.  By the end I felt that I travelled the journey alongside the author.  Despite the harsh conditions, she also experiences nature’s beauty on the trail, friendships with other hikers, and an inner strength.  These qualities kept me reading and I wanted her to succeed.  In the end, I think she found what she was looking for.

 
memoir
Posted by Uncle Will on 04/07/14
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Lillyhammer is not just another fish-outta-water-story. It is more like a whale-outta-puddle-tale. 
 
Steven Van Zandt stars in this comedy series about a New York mobster-turned-informant who enters the Witness Protection Program and requests the title town of Lillehammer, Norway as his future home. What transpires is a hard man's adjustment to the simple, cold life of an idyllic Norwegian town (population 27,000) and the townsfolk's adjustment to his self-entitled "American" ways.
 
American gangster, Frank Tagliano, only knows one way of living his life. He fell in love with a remote village while watching the 1994 Olympics, which were hosted in Norway. Frank knows that his only hope for survival, after ratting out his new boss, is selecting the last place on earth that his enemies would guess that he is hiding. What he doesn't realize is that the climate is mostly frigid; the people are cordial, but like sheep; and the customs and norms are alien to his past experience. The by-product is a clever situation comedy where the plot outcomes are usually foreseen, but the process is worth the time expended in watching.
 
"Little Steven" Van Zandt, if you are not a TV fan of The Sopranos, is also the lead guitarist with Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band. This multitalented man even provides several soundtrack songs to his show. After checking out the first season, look for Season 2 to be in our catalog soon.
 
 
 
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