Staff Choices

Posted by lbanovz on 01/17/17
cover image
It’s now January, and we’re in the throes of winter. As the grey firmly sets in outside, I cannot help but dream of palm trees and white, sandy beaches. Enchanted Islands by Alison Amend is exactly the sort of novel you need as the thermometer hovers in teens. Based on the remarkable memoirs of Frances Conway, Amend has crafted a lyrical story that traipses from Duluth, Minnesota to the golden coast of San Francisco and even further out to the mystical Galapagos Islands.
 
We follow Frances as she grows up in the Midwest with her best friend, Rosalie, before the two girls’ lives take startling different paths. Rosalie becomes a socialite, while Frances takes a job working for Navy Intelligence as secretary in California. One day, at the age of 50, in the midst of WWII, Frances finds herself assigned to a new mission: marry Ainslie Conway – one of the Navy’s intelligence officers – and move to the Galapagos as his wife to spy on the Germans. Which sounds crazy, except for the fact that it really happened: the real Frances did marry Ainslie and move to the Galapagos, all on orders from the U.S. Navy. A completely incongruous couple, Frances and Ainslie settle (somewhat) into their life together.
 
Granted, Amend has taken liberties with the historical accuracy of the story, but it makes for a compelling read. The meat of the story is really Frances and Rosalie’s relationship, but I loved that Amend allows the Galapagos a life of its own, making it a central character in and of itself. Readalikes include The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, a beautiful historical fiction about a strong women that centers around nature, and Modern Lovers by Emma Straub, for its depiction of fierce female friendship.
Posted by jfreier on 01/10/17
cover image
 Virgil Flowers is back in John Sandford's newest thriller. Two rare Amur tigers have been stolen from the Minnesota zoo and
 Virgil is called in to locate them before it's too late. A local doctor who sells medicine made from rare animals to sell to China
 is working with locals known to Virgil. The case has a few surprises and a side mystery with Virgil's girlfriend Frankie.
 All said this is a very satisfying book, fast and often funny. Virgil is a nice contrast to Sandford's Lucas Davenport series.
 
Suspense
Posted by bweiner on 01/06/17
cover image
 
Lady Gaga’s latest CD, Joanne, is another stunning addition to the artists already complex and varied musical collection. She continues to add new sounds and styles to her repertoire, and reveal fresh sides of her musical nature.

Joanne is scaled back, softer and more acoustically inclined than most of her works. The ballads are soulful, and open a window into a very personal side of Gaga. There is an elemental power in these songs, an earnestness that is in contrast to some of the other more sensational facets of this richly talented woman.

If you are not already a fan, this might be the time to reach deep into your soul and give this dynamic artist a chance.
Posted by Uncle Will on 12/28/16
cover image
I used to work with emotionally disturbed boys many, many years ago. That is what they were labeled back in the '70's. What these 8-18 year olds were was basically unloved. I met many boys that were like, Ricky Baker, the main character in Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Ricky becomes the key figure in a New Zealand national manhunt when he disappears into the "bush" with his new foster parent, Sam Neill. This film already has won 13 international awards and is arguably the feel good movie of the year.
 
     The cast is perfect. The humor is dry. The sets are lush. The writer/director is Taika Waititi, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his 12-minute short film in 2005, Two Cars, One Night; which can be viewed in the "special features" that's included in the DVD of another one of his films - Boy.  Waititi also co-wrote and co-starred in last year's hilarious vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows.
 
     This type of film is usually referred to as "art-house cinema."  It's warm and humorous and is a great film for the holiday season - when sometimes things can a little heavy.
Posted by Sltader on 12/20/16
cover image
" If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way." - Dr. Martin Luther King

Jodi Picoult’s bold new book, Small Great Things, is my favorite book of 2016. We have a white author bringing to us a story depicting what racism looks like and trying to tell those of us who are not black, what it feels like. But anyone who has read  Jodi Picoult's books knows that she doesn't shy away from difficult to discuss topics.

Ruth Jefferson is a nurse in a New Haven hospital. She’s good at her job, well-liked, a devoted mother. Turk Bauer and his wife Brit are new parents, anxious, tired and full of love for their baby son. They also happen to be White Supremacists and Ruth happens to be Black. Because of skin color, Ruth is deemed unworthy of taking care of their son and they demand she is removed from their case. Instead of standing with their employee, the hospital acquiesces to the demand and Ruth is removed from the case. However, when a simple procedure turns tragic, Ruth is the only nurse in the room. As the Bauer baby goes into distress, Ruth's split-second hesitation results in accusations of both neglect and conspiracy, and Ruth finds herself on trial for murder. When middle-class, white public defender Kennedy McQuarrie takes Ruth’s case, she insists that race never be mentioned in the courtroom as a strategy for success. Both women are forced to tackle a lifetime’s worth of history, prejudice, insults and privilege in order to trust each other in the hopes of victory in court and redemption in life. The author tells this complex story through the alternating views of Ruth, Turk and Kennedy.
 
This book is not only well written, but insightful and compelling. It was easy to follow the alternating points of view and the characters were so well-developed. As usual I can tell how much research went into this book. Jodi Picoult never ceases to amaze me with how she can both entertain and teach me with her books.
 
This book was written at a racially-charged time where discussion is sorely needed.  It should be on everyone’s 2017 book club list. Although Small Great Things is tough to read at times, I think it's an important read and I highly recommend it.
 
Posted by lsears on 12/10/16
cover image
A political revolution has displaced Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov from his seat of prominence. Because a published poem attributed to him was deemed as a call to action, the Emergency Committee of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs exiles him to the Hotel Metropol in Moscow. Previously residing there in a luxurious suite of rooms his living space is reduced to a mere 100 square feet  in the attic. He is to never leave the grounds of the Metropol. Little does he know that, in time, he may come to consider himself the luckiest man in Moscow.
 
Years pass and Alexander, former aristocrat, is now the head waiter in the hotel’s restaurant. He forms a tight group of trusted friends amid the hotel workers. Here is where his impeccable manners serve him well as the hotel still bustles with activity, foreign visitors, military and political figures, and an enemy amongst the staff. Unexpectedly, a six-year-old child comes into Alexander’s life. Sophia is a breath of fresh air with her youthful innocence and becomes his responsibility when her mother never returns. The hotel also becomes her community as she grows up there.

This novel is about the measure of a person under circumstances out of their control. How can you outwit an adversary or use their predictability to your advantage? Alexander finds himself in a desperate situation that requires a desperate response. The nuances of etiquette and language are used to great effect here. I found Amor Towles' A Gentleman in Moscow to be a very satisfying read, intelligently written, and filled with gentility and manners in an ugly world.
 
 

 

 
Posted by bweiner on 12/03/16
cover image
 
In her 2016 novel Everfair, Nisi Shawl tackles a complex and seldom visited period in world history, the colonization of the Congo by King Leopold II of Belgium. The story of the massive slaughter and dehumanization of the Congolese was repressed for many years, and now Shawl brings it to life in a unique and spectacular way. She avoids bland academic interpretations and passive retrospectives and instead takes us on a journey through the Congo as she rewrites history with a fresh expression, using the steampunk genre as her vehicle.

As with all speculative fiction, you must immerse yourself in the “what if”, and the alternate reality she proposes. What if steam power were available much earlier in the Congo? Would this have given them the power to support and protect their people? Would it be possible to create a safe haven, and would this Utopia be enough to withstand the pressure and exploitation from challenging sources?

But it is in the telling of this story that Shawl really shines. There is no single perspective here; the characters telling the story are male, female, Europeans, Americans, Africans, and Asians, they are kings, servants, politicians, nurses and scientists, and this fascinating blend of voices contributes deeply to the rich tapestry of this tale.

Enough said. I have revealed more than I should.  Check this book out and go on a remarkable journey with a unique voice in speculative fiction.
Posted by Uncle Will on 11/23/16
cover image
Watching the first season of Outsiders was sheer escapism. At the top of a mountain dwells a clan that has lived and survive there for over 200 years - no TV, no book learning, no internet, no Republican and Democratic parties.  What they do have is family, blood, tradition, and the will to live.
 
The Ferrell family is led by the Bren’in. The current one, Lady Ray, is old and near-ready to pass the customary oak (symbol of power) staff on to her eldest son, Big Foster (actor David Morse). Big Foster would be a very poor choice for the next Bren’in – for more reasons than worth the time to list.
Time is the one thing running out for the clan. A powerful energy company wants to make billions mining the coal that lies under the top of the Farrell’s mountain. They will stop at nothing to evict the residents.

What I like most about this new series is the fact that up high on the Ferrell mountaintop, the males still garnish the illusion that they have the most power. Gillian Alexy stars as G'Winveer Farrell, the clan's healer. She is a quiet force that bears close watching. Ryan Hurst (Remember the Titans) who formally held the popular role of "Opie" on Sons of Anarchy, plays Li'l Foster Farrell, the troubled son of Big Foster. He's the shows' gentle giant. Perfect casting and the producers saved on his costume budget because his appearance mirrors his SOA wardrobe – complete down to the untaimed long beard and hair.

Don’t let the title mislead. There is an outsider amongst the insiders on Farrell Mountain. Asa Farrell, played by actor Joe Anderson, fled his family 10 years ago to see the world. He joined the Army and finally, after seeing the error of his ways, returned home, tail tucked, hat in hand, and is immediately tossed in a cage for 6 months to ponder his past and future plight. The tension builds when he learns that the love of his life, G'Winveer, is betrothed to Li'l Foster.

 
WGN has picked up the option for a 2nd season; so sit back and see which really rules: big business or true love.

 
Posted by Uncle Will on 11/23/16
cover image
Watching the first season of Outsiders was sheer escapism. At the top of a mountain dwells a clan that has lived and survive there for over 200 years - no TV, no book learning, no internet, no Republican and Democratic parties.  What they do have is family, blood, tradition, and the will to live.
 
The Ferrell family is led by the Bren’in. The current one, Lady Ray, is old and near-ready to pass the customary oak (symbol of power) staff on to her eldest son, Big Foster (actor David Morse). Big Foster would be a very poor choice for the next Bren’in – for more reasons than worth the time to list.
Time is the one thing running out for the clan. A powerful energy company wants to make billions mining the coal that lies under the top of the Farrell’s mountain. They will stop at nothing to evict the residents.

What I like most about this new series is the fact that up high on the Ferrell mountaintop, the males still garnish the illusion that they have the most power. Gillian Alexy stars as G'Winveer Farrell, the clan's healer. She is a quiet force that bears close watching. Ryan Hurst (Remember the Titans) who formally held the popular role of "Opie" on Sons of Anarchy, plays Li'l Foster Farrell, the troubled son of Big Foster. He's the shows' gentle giant. Perfect casting and the producers saved on his costume budget because his appearance mirrors his SOA wardrobe – complete down to the untaimed long beard and hair.

Don’t let the title mislead. There is an outsider amongst the insiders on Farrell Mountain. Asa Farrell, played by actor Joe Anderson, fled his family 10 years ago to see the world. He joined the Army and finally, after seeing the error of his ways, returned home, tail tucked, hat in hand, and is immediately tossed in a cage for 6 months to ponder his past and future plight. The tension builds when he learns that the love of his life, G'Winveer, is betrothed to Li'l Foster.

 
WGN has picked up the options for a 2nd season so sit back and see if big business or true love rules out.

Posted by ahenkels on 11/07/16
cover image
When I heard that the co-creator of Whole 30 wrote a new book, I was curious about it. Whole 30 to me screams “diet! Can’t do this!” and a book from someone who created this writing about freedom from food was too irresistible to pass up. Whole 30, in case you are unfamiliar, is a 30 day “reset” (to use the terms of the author) where you avoid grains, dairy, alcohol, beans and soy. There is a lot more details and it’s tough. I only lasted 10 days when I tried it a year ago.

This book, however, is so much more than Whole 30. In Food Freedom Forever, author Melissa Hartwig shares her own journey to freedom from dieting and how to have a healthy relationship with food. It all starts with a “reset”, where you restrict your food for a short term and then slowly reintroduce foods to see how your body reacts. Hartwig also goes into details on how to complete your “resets” and also gives reasons and advice for going through this process.

It’s definitely an interesting read if you enjoy reading about foods and how to have better habits around food. It’s a great read if you are going through a diet for whatever reason and want some advice on how to talk to people and deal with stressful situations around food. 
Food, Health
Want recommendations on what to read next? Email advisory@ahml.info and we will be happy to assist you in finding a great book to read.
Browse our collection of eBooks and eAudiobooks and learn how to use them with your eReader, tablet, or computer.

Additional Resources

 
If your status is Confirmed Registration, your spot for the event is confirmed.

If registration for this event is full, you will be placed on a waiting list. Wait listed registrants are moved to the confirmed registration list (in the order of registration) when cancelations are received. You will receive an email notification if you are moved from the wait list to the confirmed registration list.

6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
The Library offers various venues in which patrons can contribute content that is accessible to the public.  These include, but are not limited to, blogs, reviews, forums, and social tagging on the Library’s website and catalog.  Any instance in which a patron posts written or recorded content to any of the Library’s venues that are accessible to the public is considered “patron-generated content” and is subject to this policy.
 
By contributing patron-generated content, patrons grant the Library an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use, copy, modify, display, archive, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works based upon that content.
 
By submitting patron-generated content, patrons warrant they are the sole authors or that they have obtained all necessary permission associated with copyrights and trademarks to submit such content.
 
Patrons are liable for the opinions expressed and the accuracy of the information contained in the content they submit.  The Library assumes no responsibility for such content.
 
The Library reserves the right not to post submitted content or to remove patron-generated content for any reason, including but not limited to:
 
  • content that is profane, obscene, or pornographic;
 
  • content that is abusive, discriminatory or hateful on account of race, national origin, religion, age, gender, disability, or sexual orientation;
 
  • content that contains threats, personal attacks, or harassment;
 
  • content that contains solicitations or advertisements;
 
  • content that is invasive of another person’s privacy;
 
  • content that is unrelated to the discussion or venue in which it is posted;
 
  • content that is in violation of the Library’s Code of Conduct or any other Library policy