Thursday, October 29, 2009

What We're Reading: Tracy

Zombie Haiku, by Ryan Mecum.

Could there be any better way to memorialize a zombie apocalypse than with a haiku tribute? I think not.
This novel in verse relates the adventures of a zombie plague survivor who eventually becomes zombified himself.

Here are a few juicy excerpts:

"Biting into heads
is much harder than it looks.
The skull is feisty."

"You'd think I'd get full
eating so many people,
but really, I don't."

"You are so lucky
that I can not remember
how to use doorknobs."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What We're Listening To: Laurie

Travis is a rock band from Glasgow, Scotland. They write a lot of melancholy songs with beautiful melodies and thoughtful lyrics. The band is comprised of Fran Healy, who is responsible for rhythm guitar, harmonica, vocals and songwriting. Andy Dunlop rocks on lead guitar and keyboards. Dougie Payne holds down rhythm on bass and Neil Primrose rounds out the rhythm section on drums. I recently saw Fran and Andy play an acoustic set of their back catalogue at the Magic Bag Theater in Ferndale and the show was brilliant. If you like Brit pop and insightful lyrics give Travis a listen. They will not disappoint!

Discs in order of release:
Good Feeling
The Man Who
The Invisible Band
12 Memories
The Boy With No Name
Ode To J. Smith

What We're Reading: Jan

A Short History of Film by Wheeler Winston Dixon and Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

Have you ever wondered how and where movie making got its start? This title is an enjoyable and readable trip through American and foreign film history for "movie-lovers" and "movie-learners" alike. Directors, actors, genres and more are covered from the 1880s to the present. A timeline is included that puts filmmaking in a historical context and the essays show how social events influenced the movies and how movies influenced society. More than 240 photos and illustrations highlight the text. There is an extensive bibliography in case you'd like to read more about film noir or Fellini or any other topic. Overall, the book is a concise and entertaining history of the movies...the movies that delight and enlighten us all.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What We're Reading: Edward

The spring of 77 A.D. finds Marcus Didius Falco, informer to Emperor Vespasian, in Alexandria with his family. His wife is eager to see all the sights mentioned in her guide book. They have come to Alexandria from Rhodes after seeing the remains of the Colossus. On his first night in Alexandria, Falco has dinner with his Uncle and the Librarian of the Great Library of Alexandria. The next day the Librarian is found dead in his locked office at the Library. Falco begins to ask questions about the murder and the functioning of the Library. Then more murder happen. Is this all a plot on the part of possible replacements for the Librarian? Or had the Librarian discovered some one's secret at the Library? Are books missing? Falco slowly gets to the bottom of this mess. Read the entire series!
1989 Silver Pigs
1990 Shadows in Bronze
1991 Venus in Copper
1992 Iron Hand of Mars
1992 Poseidon's Gold
1994 Last act in Palmyra
1995 Time to Depart
1996 Dying Light in Corduba
1996 Three Hands in the Fountain
1998 Two for the Lions
1999 One Virgin too Many
2001 Ode to a Banker
2001 Body in the Bath House
2002 Jupiter Myth
2003 Accusers
2004 Scandal Takes a Holiday
2006 See Delphi and Die
2007 Saturnalia
2009 Alexandria

What We're Watching: Tracy

Fido, directed by Andrew Currie, starring K'Sun Ray and Billy Connolly.

Zombies seem to have taken over our world lately: classic Marvel superheroes have been zombified, the new Zombieland film is tops at the box office, "zombie walks" have become all the rage, and the spoof novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: the Classic Regency Romance -- Now With Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! is being read by book clubs across the country.

In the alternate reality of the darkly comic Fido, the bucolic world of 1950s suburbia has literally been taken over by zombies. A cloud of space dust has reanimated Earth's dead, and after a terrifying Zombie War, the multinational conglomerate Zom Con has perfected a method for controlling zombies and
re purposing them as domestic servants. Zombies deliver the mail and milk, clean houses, pick up the trash, and landscape the lawns. And only very rarely does a zombie's containment collar fail, resulting in a brain feeding frenzy through the neighborhood. Little Timmy Robinson's family has just gotten its first zombie, Fido, as the film opens. But Fido isn't an ordinary zombie. He quickly fills in for Timmy's absentee, workaholic father, and seems to be falling for Timmy's mom. Timmy couldn't be happier. But then Fido eats the neighbor...

The story plays out in a fantastically realized setting, perhaps best conceptualized as Leave it to Beaver meets Dawn of the Dead. The 1950s houses, interiors, and clothes are kitschy masterpieces, perfectly captured with technicolor style cinematography. The horror elements are presented in an over-the-top fashion that you can't help but laugh at. And for those who remember Lassie, there's even a classic "Hurry! Timmy's in the well!" moment.

Pour yourself a bowl of gummy brains, turn out the lights, and settle in for the night with Fido. Just be sure to take a glance over your shoulder every once in a while...

Friday, October 23, 2009

What We're Reading: Cathy

Now & Then by Jacqueline Sheehan.

Anna's life isn't going too well just now. She's still grieving over her divorce and miscarraiges. Arriving home after a trip to the British Isles, she collapses into bed and is woken up by her mother with the news that her brother has been in a near fatal car accident. When she gets to the hospital, she finds out he had been on the way to pick up his son who was being held in New Jersey for stealing a car. Anna has to go get Joseph and bring him to his father. She brings him to her house where she later finds him going through her yet unpacked luggage. As she grabs the item from him the two are suddenly transported to Ireland in 1844. Both find love, healing, danger, curses, and blessings there. A new time travel find for me!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What We're Reading: Tracy

Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, by Barbara Ehrenreich.

Skeptical about books and DVDs like The Secret that promise you can receive anything you want through the power of attraction? Wary of the latest positive thinking guru and his training course that everyone is recommending? Tired of being pressured to attend motivational speaker presentations? Then you'll definitely enjoy Barbara Ehrenreich's latest work, Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. This carefully reasoned and calmly explicated study reveals the dark side of America's "bright side" businesses, from pushers of pink ribbons for breast cancer patients to the prosperity preachers who dominate the late-night airwaves and the executive coaches who lead coerced employees in the latest trendy team building exercises. Put on your "crabby cap", read, and enjoy!

What We're Watching: Tracy

Land of the Lost, starring Will Ferrell, Danny McBride, and Anna Friel.

Since I'm not a fan of comedies and I am a fan of the 1970s cult classic television series, Land of the Lost, I expected to really dislike this feature film adaptation starring comic actor Will Ferrell. Was I ever surprised: I laughed out loud through much of the film, saw it twice in theatres, and bought it on DVD the day it was released. And now I recommend it to you!

This very, very loose adaptation of the television show follows the adventures of scientists Rick Marshall and Holly Cantrell, along with roadside attraction entrepreneur Will Stanton, as they travel through space and time to the Land of the Lost. Fun-to-watch performances by Ferrell and McBride play out in fantastic sets, and the whole film features a campy, kitschy, self-aware style that was the perfect choice for a remake of the Sid and Marty Krofft show. Unlike the original, this one is not for children, but the rest of us can enjoy this bit of escapism and happily find ourselves in the Land of the Lost!

Monday, October 19, 2009

What We're Reading: Edward

City of Silver by Annamaria Alfieri

Potosi is the highest, largest and richest city in the the New World. In 1650 the King of Spain sends the Visitador General and the Grand Inquisitor to investigate the debasing of the silver coin produced in Potosi. Meanwhile the mayor's daughter is found dead in a locked room at the local convent. Despite her possible suicide the Abbess chooses to have her buried in sacred ground. As the Abbess investigates this possible murder there is another death at the convent. These events make the Abbess the chief target of the Grand Inquisitor. The mayor and other nobles of the town fete the Visitador General, while plotting behind his back. Will the Visitador General find and punish the debaser of the king's coinage? Will the Grand Inquisitor find souls to save?
City of Silver works both as a historical novel and as a locked room mystery.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What We're Listening To:Krys

Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson.

Book Four of the continuing series of "The 39 Clues" was just as captivating as the previous books. The characters are searching for more clues. This time they are in Egypt. As always, they have to deal with deception and untrustworthy relatives. Despite the danger, they find a way out. The ending gives a hint that the next stop will be Sicily.

What We're Reading:Krys

The Bride Will Keep Her Name by Jan Goldstein.

While the bride is doing a countdown to her wedding, she learns disturbing news about her groom-to-be. In trying to find out the truth, she unleashes many unfortunate events. She is lucky to have two great friends that stick by her and help her in any way they can. A fun read and suspenseful to boot.

What We're Reading:Krys

Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy.

The story of the town of Rossmore and St. Ann's Well and the new road that is scheduled to run through the woods. Each chapter covers a different person living or affected by the events in Rossmore or close surroundings. Binchy weaves her tale very well and captures the reader from the first page.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What We're Reading: Rita

Sand Sharks, by Margaret Maron

This is the 15th entry in Maron’s Deborah Knott series and finds the “bootlegger’s daughter” attending a judge’s conference in Wrightsville Beach, NC, which sounds like a lovely setting for a working weekend getaway. Of course, this being a mystery series, a dead body turns up and Judge Knott is immediately embroiled in the investigation. Readers familiar with the series will appreciate the maturation of Deborah’s character from a young attorney running for a seat on the judicial bench to her current status as new wife and stepmother and, as always, an insider’s look at the protagonist’s (and author’s) native North Carolina. This is an intelligently written mystery series which includes, in addition to an engaging main character and lovely descriptions of North Carolina locales, plots that incorporate current social issues such as urban sprawl and the plight of migrant workers. To fully appreciate the series, start at the beginning.

1. Bootlegger’s Daughter
2. Southern Discomfort
3. Shooting at Loons
4. Up Jumps the Devil
5. Killer Market
6. Home Fires
7. Storm Track
8. Uncommon Clay
9. Slow Dollar
10. High Country Fall
11. Rituals of the Season
12. Winter’s Child
13. Hard Row
14. Death’s Half Acre
15. Sand Sharks

What We're Reading: Alice

Frankly My Dear, I'm Dead (A Delilah Dickinson Literary Tour Mystery)by Livia Washburn

"Gone with the Wind" provides the inspiration for Washburn's fun Literary Tour mystery, the first in a new cozy series. Divorcee Delilah Dickinson owns a travel agency in Atlanta. During her first group tour of an old plantation modelled after Tara - complete with a full cast of actors - things go south really fast. The actor playing Clark Gable playing Rhett Butler is found dead. Before anyone can even think "Where shall I go? What shall I do?" Delilah finds herself taking over the investigation when the number one suspect turns out to be her son-in-law.

Watch for the next title in the series, Huckleberry Finished, due out this month.

Monday, October 12, 2009

What We're Reading: Edward

"Bad Things Happen" by Harry Dolan

"Plans go wrong, bad things happen, people die" is the definition that Tom uses to select stories for his literary magazine, "Gray Streets." Tom edits a story for the magazine by David. But David keeps working on the story. Eventually Tom asks David to help him edit other people's stories for the magazine. Then one night Tom calls David to have him help bury a dead body in a park. Now bad things start to happen.Tom is found dead on the pavement under the window to his sixth story office. Did he fall or was he pushed? Next the person of interest in Tom's murder is found dead. Again it looks like suicide, but it could have been murder. David begins to write stories to explain the two murders. But Detective Waishkey keeps telling him that murders in the real world are not like stories in "Gray Streets." Another murder happens at David's house. Now David is a person of interest. He flees Ann Arbor. While the police search for David, he keeps in touch with Detective Waishkey by phone. Working together will they be able to keep more murders from happening?
Or will they become the next victims?
This is one of my favorite novels of 2009.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What we're Reading: Edward

In a small Gorale village, there begins a love story that endures across time and country. Anielica, the village beauty, is courted by the Pigeon, so named for his pigeon toes. The Pigeon courts Anielica by undertaking to improve her family's home. The villagers approve as the two begin courting by passing notes to each other. But World War II forces itself on the village. Pigeon heads the Polish resistance in the area, while Anielica keeps local traditions alive. After the war they are reunited but face more hardships. Pigeon becomes one of the Communist disappeared. While Anielica tells only stories with happy endings as she raises her granddaughter, Beata. Beata moves to Krakow after the death of her grandmother. Living with her aunt and cousin, she experiences a very different Poland. She struggles to survive in this new world without happy endings. But thanks to the intervention of a stranger from the past, Beata begins to find her way.
A MUST READ for all with Polish ancestry!!!

What We're Listening To: Abby

Learn to Live by Darius Rucker

I'm not what you would call a country music fan but I love Darius Rucker! He could sing anything and I would love it. Ever since he was the lead singer in Hootie and the Blowfish I have followed his career and anticipated his CD's. This one does not disappoint. Not only does he perform the songs beautifully but he wrote or co-wrote all of them too. Some are very funny like, " Drinkin & Dialin" or "All I Want" and others are serious and touching, "Don't Think I Don't Think About it" and "If I Had Wings". I could listen to this over and over and never get tired of his voice.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

All About Apples: Michigan's Orchard Listings

Each year at this time, the Youth Services Department fields dozens of questions a week about local orchards and cider mills. Here's a great site that lists Michigan orchards by area, and also features articles, recipes, and fun facts:

What We're Reading: Tracy

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, retold and illustrated by Will Moses from the original story by Washington Irving.

October is the perfect time to take a trip to "a mysterious, dreamy little settlement called Sleepy Hollow." Just hope you don't meet the Headless Horseman along the way! Washington Irving's classic story, set in the Hudson River Valley of New York during the late 1700s, relates the adventures of superstitious schoolmaster Ichabod Crane on the night he met the Headless Horseman. The tale is beautifully brought to life by Will Moses' folk art illustrations, so similar to those of his great grandmother, the famed American primitive painter, Grandma Moses.

Harvest Bingo

BINGO @ the Library for children means seasonal fun! Stop by Youth Services to pick up a "Harvest Bingo" form. Complete the seasonal themed bingo sheet full of fun activities, and return it to the library for a prize packet by November 13. One entry per child please. Have fun!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What We're Reading: Tracy

Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression, by Morris Dickstein.

If you're worried that we're headed for a second Great Depression, take comfort from this work, which details the seemingly endless cultural contributions, both high and low brow, made during this otherwise dark time in our country's history. Busby Berkeley musicals, film noir, art deco, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, big bands, WPA murals, screwball comedies, and Great American Novels entertained, uplifted, and distracted Americans while helping to shape the decade of the 1930s.

What We're Watching: Laurie

Curb Your Enthusiasm created and written by Larry David. Starring Larry David, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin and Susie Essman.

creator Larry David has done it again! This television show is comedy at its best. The cast has great chemistry and the writing is terrific. Larry is always getting himself into a pickle and this show will have you laughing so hard it will bring you to tears. If you like comedies, and don't mind racy humor, then this is the series for you. This series is not rated but use caution due to language.

What We're Watching: Laurie

Freaks and Geeks: the complete series created and written by Paul Feig. Starring Linda Cardellini, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, Martin Starr, John Francis Daley, Samm Levine and James Franco.

This hilarious television series delves into the lives of two different cliques of students at McKinley High School. The older, jaded crowd of Lindsay Weir's friends known as the "freaks" and the young, naive group of Sam Weir's (Lindsay's brother) friends known as the "geeks". You'll laugh out loud and find yourself thinking of similar scenarios you may have experienced with your own pals. If you like any of the recent Judd Apatow productions (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), don't miss out on this lesser known gem of a series. Classic!

Monday, October 5, 2009

What We're Listening To: Cathy

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant.

In Italy in the late 1500's to 1600's, almost half of the noble women were placed in convents due to dowery inflation. This story, while fictional, is based on this fact. It is the engrossing story of one such convent, Santa Catarina in Ferrara, in the year 1570 and one of those reluctant novices, Serafina. Her fight against the incarceration involves the dispensary mistress, Suora Zuana, the abbess Madonna Chiara, the novice mistress Suora Umiliana, and the oldest nun, saintlike Suora Magdalena. Relations amongst the nuns, between the nuns and the Church, and between the nuns and Italy's ruling families are all affected by the struggle of Serafina. The author quotes a letter written by a nun in Bologna in 1586 to the pope: "Many of us are shut up against our will and deprived of all contact with the outside world. Living with such strictness and abandoned by everyone, we have only hell in the world and the next." This book is dedicated to these women. I couldn't resist.

What We're Reading: Tracy

The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit, by Thomas Sugrue.

One of the most critically acclaimed of the many books about "what happened to Detroit," The Origins of the Urban Crisis offers a comprehensive answer to this complicated question.

TIME magazine has recently posted a veritable squadron of reporters to Detroit, who will spend an entire year telling the story of what they find here. Follow along at their Assignment Detroit website and at their daily blog

Friday, October 2, 2009

What We're Reading: Debbie

The Law of Bound Hearts by Anne LeClaire

Sam and Libby, sisters, were inseparable as kids. But now they are in their 30s and haven't spoken in six years after a betrayal shatters their bond. Now Libby is seriously ill and needs a kidney. The sisters begin work on reconciling while dealing with the challenges of their separate lives and sorting out their intertwining pain. Watching this unfold will make you wonder if you would donate a kidney to a loved one if asked to make this sacrifice.

I've also read "Entering Normal" and "Leaving Eden" by this author. I'll be watching for others by her.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Voynich manuscript has been around for over 500 years. In all that time parts of it have not been deciphered by scholars. The manuscript is really at the Yale University Library. It is the starting point for these two novels:
The Voynich manuscript is being watched. Unbelievably the manuscript is translated out loud by an autistic boy. The Vatican dispatches Father Valori to verify the translation. Father Valori and the boy find themselves being chased by several factions. Is the Voynich manuscript really written in the language of the Nephilim? According to the Bible, the Nephilim are the offspring of fallen angels and human women. Where all the Nephilim sent into darkness or did some of them remain on the earth? Is the boy the last surviving Nephilim?
Father Hector is a science teacher at a Spanish Jesuit school. His hobby is the mystery of the Voynich manuscript. He is also the school archivist. Within the archives he finds a possible trail of the Voynich. Was the Voynich the work of Tycho Brahe and/or Johannes Kepler? Has Father Hector found the key to decipher the manuscript? Are the Vatican and scientists still in a struggle for supremacy?
P.S. Have you seen pictures of the Kryptos sculpture at the CIA headquarters in Virginia? One part of it has baffled modern cryptographers!

What We're Watching: Kathryn

The Raven, starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff 1935

The first movie of the series of classic horror flicks we are showing as part of the library's Edgar Allan Poe Month, this was great to rewatch! The black-and-white film features all the great ingredients for a spooky old movie: trapdoors in the study that lead to secret rooms, cobwebs in the hidden corridors, torture devices, a stormy night with banging shutters and of course, the actors' hilarious takes to the camera before the peals of insane madman laughter. I can't wait for the rest of the movies!

Edgar Allan Poe Month is sponsored in part by the Michigan Humanities Council and the Friends of the Sterling Heights Public Library. For more information on the entire Edgar Allan Poe Month event schedule, visit our Web site!

What We're Reading: Kathryn

Hello Goodbye by Emily Chenoweth
This beautiful story looks at death and its affect on family and friends with a clear and steady gaze, not one mucked up by contrived sentimentality. Helen Hansen has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, but her husband, Elliot, has not yet told her or their daughter, Abby, of the short time she has left. They embark on a week's vacation at a luxury hotel/resort in New Hampshire for one last family vacation and a celebration of the couple's 20th wedding anniversary. The real beauty of the book lies in witnessing from each of the characters' perspectives the emotions behind friendship, love, illness, grief and death; Chenoweth's writing resonates because her observations of these are unflinching and real.
Most touching for me was the mother/daughter relationship and Abby's memories of her mom, like the way she used to lay in bed next to her to comfort her when she was a child. Readers get to see the juxtaposition of Helen's life ending and Abby, a college freshman, blossoming into adulthood. This is Chenoweth's first book; I'll be watching for more!