Staff Choices

Posted by rkong on 05/24/12
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Parents have to make a lot of important choices throughout the course of a child's life, but very few carry the weight of deciding which Star Wars movie to allow your children to watch first. I just went through this decision-making process myself, so I thought I'd share what I did with the hopes of helping other parents.
 
The main question for me was whether to start with the original trilogy beginning with Episode IV: A New Hope or the prequel trilogy beginning with Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Do I want my child to get to know Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader first? Or would it be better to start with what some might call the more kid-friendly movie and introduce her to young Anakin, Queen Amidala, and Jar Jar Binks? Is it more important to watch them in real-world chronological order (by release date) or fake-universe chronological order?
 
In the end, I decided I was somewhat of a Star Wars purist and would start off with the original trilogy. It just felt wrong to do it any other way and I'm happy to say that Episode IV was a big hit with my daughter. She was really into the story and the entire Star Wars universe. She asked lots of questions (big surprise there!) and even got Obi Wan Kenobi's name right towards the end. 
 
So, what do we watch next? Well, a friend of mine suggested that I try what's known as Machete Order. Having read about it, I have to say that it really appeals to me and I think I'll try it. But ultimately it'll be up to my daughter to watch the rest of the movies when she's ready. Who knows, maybe she'll want to take a break from the real-life action and watch some of the animated Clone Wars first! 
 
I'm curious what others think. Leave a comment below telling me what you think the right approach is to introduce kids to Star Wars? What's your favorite Star Wars movie?
Posted by jfreier on 05/21/12
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The 12th book in the "Joe Pickett" series is one I've been waiting for as it features Joe's shadowy best friend, Nate Romanowski, and finally reveals why he is been off the grid and who is after him.
 
Nate has been an on and off again presence in this series and his mysterious past and why he lives alone has made him a curious character, one you want to know more about. Nate is again on edge as one of his former special forces friend has been killed, and knows his former mentor, Nemcek, is on his way to finish him off. Nate reluctantly finally tells Joe of why his mentor is out to kiil him and the rest of the team and what happened in their past to justify it.
 
I also love the back story of Nate being a master Falconer, it adds another dimension to his motives.
 
I'm a big fan of C.J. Box and this series and I wasn't let down by this book, this book does stand alone but you might want to read a couple of his earlier books.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 05/18/12
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In this sequel to Wish You Were Here, Emily Maxwell is adjusting to being a widow, living alone, mourning not only her husband's death but the upsetting changes in her quiet Pittsburgh neighborhood. Like any grandmother, she looks forward to the Christmas visit from her children and grandchildren. But when her best friend and sister-in-law, Arlene, ends up in the hospital, Emily has to face another change in her life.  Since Arlene had driven her everywhere, Emily now had to drive herself.  So she buys a new car and reluctantly becomes a much more independent person. These small events in Emily's life have an unexpected effect, making her a much stronger person, one that looks forward to what life has to offer, even at the age of 80.
 
Stewart O'Nan has a talent for putting life under a microscope, enabling his readers to understand their own lives.  What may seem very ordinary becomes a heartfelt examination of human nature and the milestones of one's life.  O'Nan's sympathetic portrayal of characters such as Emily Maxwell gives them dignity, as he makes readers privy to their thoughts, motivations, and dreams.  If you like literary fiction that is slower paced, written in a lyrical, richly-detailed but spare style, you will enjoy Emily Alone.
Posted by roseh on 05/18/12
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Helen Allston and her daughter Eulah are enjoying all the perks their first-class passage affords aboard the Titanic.
 
Fast forward three years to Boston where Sibyl, the eldest daughter of Helen and Harlan Allston, and reluctant matriarch of the family, is attending an annual seance. This secret and somber affair is dedicated to communicating with departed loved ones lost on the Titanic.
 
Flashback to 1868 Shanghai where Harlan is a novice sailor trying to make a name for himself. 
 
From seedy back alleys and opium dens to the lavish lifestyles of the privileged upper class, this novel brings together three distinct settings to produce a vivid snapshot of life during the turn of the century.
Posted by rkong on 05/18/12
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One of my favorite directors for a long time now has been Steven Soderbergh. Everyone knows that Hollywood is tough, but director Steven Soderbergh is just one of those filmmakers who manages to find tons of success at the box office while also impressing the toughest film critics.
 
The other night I watched one of his more recent efforts called Haywire (2011), starring Gina Carano of MMA fame. From the looks of the trailers, I expected some mindless, yet entertaining, fast-paced action film, but I should have remembered that Soderbergh almost always marches to the beat of his own drummer and rarely delivers what you would expect from a big budget movie.
 
The movie was fine (definitely not his best in my opinion) but I honestly had a hard time focusing on it because I kept thinking back on an earlier movie of his called The Limey (1999), starringTerrence Stamp and written by Lem Dobbs, who also wrote the screenplay to Haywire. Both movies, but more so with The Limey, take on this pace that just makes you feel uneasy if you're accustomed to the standard Hollywood blockbuster. Some might call it slow, or even boring, but I would disagree. I appreciate how Soderbegh takes his time developing the characters and revealing the world in which they go about their business. 
 
If you've already seen Haywire or plan to see it soon, I would recommend that you also take a look at The Limey and look for similarities between the two. Let me know what you think. 
 
And, if you have a favorite film by Soderbergh, leave a comment and tell the rest of us why.
drama, movies
Posted by Uncle Will on 05/09/12
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Vivian is a teen werewolf.  She recently lost her father, who was King of the Pack, in a horrific fire.  Her mother, Esme, is 40-going-on-18 and Vivian's closest competition for male attention.  Like any teenage girl who lacks parental guidance, Vivian is depressed and a loner.  All her male peers are beasts...both figuratively and literally.  It's tough enough for a teen to deal with puberty, yet alone the repercussions of full moon transformations.
 
One day Vivian's life is transformed when she initiates a conversation with Aiden.  He is a creative classmate.  He has a gentle soul and smile to match.  He has a group of friends that could rival any werewolves' pack.  He also, in the eyes of any card-carrying werewolf, is nothing but a meat-boy
 
Meat-boys are not meant to be friends or lovers of werewolves.  Meat-boys are meant to be meals. 
 
Vivian's struggles abound.  She fears what a relationship with Aiden might bring out in her.  She fears being shunned by her pack for crossing a line that is forbidden.  She fears that her family will retaliate against Aiden for her indiscretions. 
 
Add to the plot the murders of some humans that draw unwanted attention to the pack and a power-struggle for a new leader; and the reader gets the classic story of  forbidden boy meets forbidden girl...with some howling at the moon added for special effects. 
 
This book was adapted into a film starring Agnes Bruckner and Hugh Dancy.  It should be required reading for teens (or adults) that feel the constant pressure to fit into today's society. 
 
Posted by Pam I am on 05/08/12
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If you like Jodi Picoult books then Defending Jacob is a great choice for you to read! Andy Barber is the assistant district attorney living with his wife and teenage son. A high school student is found murdered in a local park and Andy is part of the investigation. Until, his son turns out to be the prime suspect. Andy is taken off the case and is torn apart fighting for his sons innocence. This book explores a family in crisis and makes you wonder what you would do in that situation.
Posted by Auntie Anne. on 05/01/12
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Russian emigree Eva Delectorskaya was 28 years old, in Paris 1939, when her beloved younger brother Kolla was murdered.  At his funeral, Eva noticed a mysterious stranger, Lucas Romer, who was connected to her brother's tragic demise.  Knowing that Eva was fluent in several languages, Romer recruited Eva to replace her brother as a spy in his underground propaganda network called the British Security Coordination.  Eva underwent intensive training, and after a successful covert operation in Belgium she was sent to New York City.  Her operation there was intended to manipulate the American press to swing sentiment in the U.S. in favor of going to war.  The operation was compromised and nearly cost Eva her life. So she was forced to disappear and change her identity.

Thirty years later, Eva has transformed herself into Sally Gilmartin, a 60 year old widow, mother and grandmother living in the Cotswolds.  But in spite of her new life, Eva has never stopped looking over her shoulder. Convinced that her life is still in danger, she tells her daughter Ruth her story and in turn recruits Ruth to help her find Romer, the man whom she had loved years ago, the man who betrayed her.

Restless, an intriguing historical thriller, is somewhat based on an actual branch of British intelligence that was formed to coax America into WWII.  Eva's fascinating story is a great illustration of how even the most minor characters played significant and pivotal roles in the events leading up to WWII.

Posted by Auntie Anne. on 04/26/12
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In Paris, France in the 1860's, Emperor Napoleon III ordered the vitual destruction of his city.  Neighborhoods full of history and nostalgia, charmingly winding their way through Paris were to be razed to make way for long straight boulevards designed by Baron Georges Haussman to modernize the city.
 
Rose Bazelet lived in her husband's family home on Rue Childebert since there were married.  Her beloved husband has been dead 10 years, but Rose still clings to cherished memories of home, family and friends.  She feels a strong loyalty not only to the house itself but to its tenants, neighbors, and friends. So much so that she writes letters to to her deceased husband, relating the destruction of their city, reflecting on their life together, and revealing an occasional secret that she has kept all these years.  Rose dedicates herself to saving the house and quietly takes a stand, moves to the basement,  refusing to leave, preparing for the eventual demolition.
 
The premise of this book may sound rather depressing, but it is beautifully and lovely written as only De Rosnay can write about her Paris. The House I Loved is really a love letter, not only to a dead husband but also to a Paris of 150 years ago.   This Victorian era Paris comes to life through the rich details of the book's characters and livestyles as well as of the streets of the city itself.  If you enjoy historical fiction, you will love this book. 
Posted by jfreier on 04/10/12
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Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are back in "Robert Crais" newest thriller. Elvis get's a call from the mother of a missing girl who thinks her daughter is just run off with her boyfriend, when Elvis investigates he finds out that they have been abducted by professional border kidnappers.
Elvis and Joe set up a plan to free the young couple, but it goes awry and Elvis is Taken.
Joe enlists the help of one of his former black op friends Jon Stone, between the two they take on the lethal human traffickers.
Mystery
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
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