Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

Fever Dream

by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

FBI Agent Aloysius Pendergast is at the old family mansion in Louisiana for a required visit. While there he happens to open the cabinet that holds the guns from his last African safari. He notices that his wife's gun is dirty. While cleaning the gun, he realizes that the gun was filled with blanks. The blanks lead to her, Helen, death in the jaws of a red-maned lion. She was MURDERED! Within a day Pendergast has recruited NYPD Lieutenant Vincent D'Agosta. They travel to Africa to pick up the twelve year old trail. Why was she killed? Helen was an epidemiologist with an interest in the paintings of John James Audubon. Was she looking for a famous lost painting? Was there a link between her vocation and her avocation? The two detectives fight their way through the swamps of Louisiana to find the answer.

Monday, December 27, 2010

What We're Watching: Jan

Mid-August Lunch (Pranzo di Ferragosto). Directed by Gianni Di Gregorio. Starring Gianni Di Gregorio and Valeria De Franciscis.

This film is an Italian “slice of life” story that is humorous, charming, and uplifting. The main character is Gianni, a middle-aged man who lives with and takes care of his elderly, demanding mother in Rome. Gianni expects to stay home during the mid-August holiday, Pranzo di Ferragosto, when most Italians leave the city to avoid the heat. He is low on money and behind on his rent. The condo-manager Alfonso makes a deal with Gianni – he can write-off Gianni’s debt if Gianni will take care of Alfonso’s mother during the holiday. After agreeing to the plan, Alfonso arrives with his mother and an aunt, and the town doctor then presses Gianni to look after his mother too. The premise sounds at the least to be a crowded condo. However, it is more than that. It is a mixture of personalities, experiences, and pasta techniques among the feisty ladies. Gianni has his hands full but creates an atmosphere of caring and a memorable lunch that delights his mother and guests. The ladies are having fun as in their youth and are feeling alive again. The backdrop includes real Italian neighborhoods and Gianni as a man with flaws but a good heart too, who tries to not just accommodate his housemates but comfort them as well. In Italian with English subtitles.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What We're Listening To: Abby

The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard. Unabridged Audiobook read by Tavia Gilbert.

This is the story of Jody Linder who's father was killed and mother assumed killed when she was three years old. Her father, Hugh Jay was the oldest child of the wealthy Linder family in Rose, Kansas. Justice is swift in this murder case as
Billy Crosby an angry, wife-beating drunk is sent away for the crime. Billy's long suffering wife Valentina and young son, Collin remain in Rose though residents and classmates shun them. Jody is a couple years younger than Collin so they see each other over the years in school only managing to speak to one another once or twice. But after 23 years in jail and thanks to Collin who is now a lawyer, Billy's sentence is commuted and he is released from prison because of the flimsy evidence that he was convicted on. Collin knew his father was not guilty of this crime and could not in good conscience let this injustice stand no matter how unsavory a character his father was. When Billy returns to Rose more angry than ever innocents are murdered and the truth is revealed in a suprising turn of events.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What We're Reading: Rita

The Widower's Tale: A Novel by Julia Glass

The newest title from the National Book Award-winning novelist (for Three Junes). The widower of the title is Percy Darling, a 70-year-old retired Harvard librarian. When the curmudgeonly Percy uncharacteristically offers the use of his barn to the local alternative preschool, he finds his life changing dramatically. To say that Percy has been living a quiet life for the past 30 years is an understatement; he has been a virtual social recluse since the death of his wife, whose dance studio in the barn he has preserved as a kind of shrine. But as Percy opens his barn to the Elves & Fairies school, he finds himself opening up as well. He leaves the huge historic house he's been rattling around in for the past several years for his new routine of a daily run through town and, as he meets new people and renews old acquaintances, is surprised (and often outraged) at how much has changed.

The characters are an intriguing bunch, and there are a lot of them. The main players are Percy's two daughters, who are polar opposites; his grandson Robert and his friend Turo, both Harvard students; his new (after 30 years) love interest Sarah, whose son is an Elves & Fairies student; Ira, a new teacher at the school; and Celestino, an illegal immigrant who works for a local landscaping service. All of them are tied to Percy in some way, and the many plots they're involved in make this a complex, but ultimately satisfying read. Ms. Glass is an exceptional writer, and her descriptions of both the people and the settings in this New England-based novel are lovely.

What We're Reading: Edward

Trial by Fire

by J. A. Jance

If you have read any of Jance's other series ( J. P. Beaumont or Joanna Brady), you will want to try her Ali Reynolds series. Trial by Fire is the fifth in the series. Ali Reynolds grew up in the Red Rock/Sedona area of Arizona. Her career as a journalist took her to the glamorous life of a television anchor in Los Angeles. At the beginning of the series, she experiences the joint trauma of losing both her job and her husband to younger women. Ali is now back home. She finds herself involved in all sorts of criminal matters. In the latest installment murder and eco-terrorism are mixed. A woman is found severely burned at the scene of an arson fire. Was the fire set to kill the woman? Or was the fire set by eco-terrorists? Ali gets involved with the hospital's "Angel of Death". Will they both work together to protect the injured woman? Can Ali get to the bottom of both cases without getting herself getting killed? A must read to the mystery lover!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

Red, Green, or Murder?
by Steven F. Havill
If you have visited New Mexico, you have probably been asked the official state question: Red or Green? This of course refers to the type of chile sauce you want on your New Mexican food. Havill turns the state question into a mystery. Former Under-Sheriff Bill Gastner has retired and is now a state livestock inspector. Gastner witnesses a ranch accident and helps get the injured cowboy to the hospital. Later in the day another cowboy goes missing. The ranch's truck and trailer are traced to the border with Mexico. Thinking out of the box, Gastner rescues the injured missing cowboy. Saving two lives is all in a day's work for the former lawman. But Gastner misses lunch with an old friend. The old friend turns up dead at the lunch table. Was the death due to natural causes of something more sinister? Gastner sees that things just don't add up. Will he be able to solve this mystery?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What We're Reading: Cathy

The Butcher and the Vegetarian by Tara Austen Weaver

This wasn't the story I expected. The author, a life-long vegetarian, tries eating meat after doctor recommends it for her health. She enters the world of the butcher shop, of BBQ's, and the steak house. She finds that she actually likes meat - especially bacon, salami, and Syrian kebabs - although she feels guilty about it. She investigates some of the meat producers and even watches a cow getting slaughtered. Throughout the book she contemplates the ethics and environmental consequences of our food choices. Her personal choice at the end of the story will surprise you.

What We're Reading: Edward

Falconer's Trial

by Ian Morson

In this the seventh medieval Oxford mystery featuring Master William Falconer, Falconer is in jail. He was seen near the dead body of Lady Ann Segrim. Her servants believe that he had inappropriate designs on the Lady. They believe that Falconer poisoned her. Falconer is put on trial for murder by the university administration. While he is in jail it is up to his friends to investigate the murder and clear him. Thomas Symon, his favorite student, Saphira Le Veske, his paramour, and Peter Bullock, the town constable, each use their special skills to search for the real murderer. Was it the brother-in-law, whose advances Lady Ann spurned? Did it have something to do with the Templar Knight, who followed her husband home from the Crusade? Or was it related to a death at the local convent? Falconer's friends must work quickly before he is found GUILTY!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What We're Watching: Laurie

Persona written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. Starring Bibi Andersson, Liv Ullmann, and Margaretha Krook.

This story unfolds as actress Elisabeth Vogler (Ullmann) finds herself in the hospital after freezing onstage during a performance. The cause of Vogler's suffering is unknown and she refuses to speak to anyone. Vogler does not seem to be making any progress after being placed under the care of an inexperienced nurse named Alma (Andersson). As hard as Alma tries she cannot get Elisabeth to communicate with her, and Alma ends up sharing intimate secrets with the mute actress while her personality ultimately submerges into Elisabeth's persona. In Swedish with English subtitles.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What We're Listening To: Cathy

The Charming Quirks of Others by Alexander McCall Smith

This is the newest installment in the Isabel Dalhousie series. She is asked to look into the backgrounds of 3 candidates for a school's headmastership. The school has received an anonymous letter saying that one of the candidates has something to hide. Which one is it and who wrote the letter and why? Isabel must also deal with a woman who is in the orchestra with Jamie who is trying to steal him away using very underhanded tactics. The Journal of Applied Ethics brings her into contact again with Professors Dove and Lettuce who cause her trouble without even actually being there. Everything eventually works out although maybe not in the way you had thought. And when are Isabel and Jamie going to get married already?

What We're Reading: Tracy

Weird & Wonderful: Discoveries from the Mysterious World of Forgotten Children's Books, by Welleran Poltarnees.

The subtitle of this little book gives an idea of the intriguing contents within: "Including But Not Limited to Zany Pictures, Baffling Visions, Weird Thoughts, Puzzling Situations, and Things That Are Truly Bizarre." As the author states in his introduction, "Children's books excel in the wonderfully unexpected. It is a realm where dream and imagination can run riot, and it attracts creators with riotous fancy," like Lewis Carroll, creator of Alice in Wonderland's mad adventures. The passage of time adds another layer of potential weirdness to children's books, as historical images lose their reference points, becoming unintelligible or unpalatable to today's readers. Struwwelpeter (Shaggy Peter), an early German "cautionary" book for children detailing good behavior (and the horrific consequences of bad), is an example of such an old classic that modern tastes find grotesque.
Lusciously illustrated with images from the author's archival collection and annotated throughout with dryly humorous comments, Weird & Wonderful is a bibliophile's treat. Take a peek inside and discover such odd kiddie lit characters as a "Hippopotamustard;" explore a "rendering of the emotions of a family of blackberries;" and read a poem about "Obliging Mr. Hammer." Today's children's books will seem dull by comparison with these strange bits of publishing history.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

Paris Vendetta: a novel
by Steve Berry
Cotton Malone was a Justice Department operative. Now he runs an antiquarian bookstore in Copenhagen. A late night visitor to his newly rebuilt bookstore has it damaged again. Cotton and a younger Justice Department operative are now on the run. Danish billionaire, Henrik Thorvalsen, has discovered who ordered the death of his only son. The British aristocrat behind the murder is now involved in a plan to destabilize the world economy. Cotton was there when Henrik's son was killed and he killed the murderer. With Henrik's help Cotton is able to stop the destruction of the Eiffel Tower. But now both sides are in the hunt for a treasure hidden by Napoleon. Are the clues to the treasure hidden on Saint Helena? Or are they hidden in a book in the Napoleon exhibit at Les Invalides? The final battle between the two forces takes place in another French treasure just outside Paris. Will Cotton and Henrik both survive?

Monday, November 15, 2010

What We're Watching: Jan

America: The Story of Us.
Narrated by Liev Schreiber. Produced by the History Channel.

“We are pioneers and trailblazers. We fight for freedom. We transform our dreams into the truth. Our struggles will become a nation.” These words begin the three discs of this series about the creation of America. The set is not a rigid chronological timeline but rather a study of how courage, curiosity and determination built our nation. The pilgrim's voyage and their start in the new land laid the groundwork for all future exploration. The revolution against the British, the Civil War, and the Underground Railroad showed grit that would symbolize the American fighting spirit. Immigrants were called upon to build the Erie Canal and Transcontinental Railroad, both dangerous endeavors and costing hundreds of lives. Invention and innovation created technologies that spurred progress. The cotton gin, telegraph, space travel and the computer are, of course, highlights. Darker parts of U.S. history are covered too such as slavery, racial inequality and the plight of the American Indian. ‘America’ is not a dull history lesson, but rather an engaging overview. It is done with reenactments and animation and is visually appealing. It is loaded with statistics and facts, some of which are reminders of what we learned in school and some of which are new and astonishing. The series doesn’t cover every incident in detail, and has historians as well as celebrities commenting on events. Overall, it is an examination of our country’s struggles and it’s “can-do” attitude during the past 400 years.

What We're Listening To: Abby

The Rule of Nine: A Paul Madriani Novel by
Steve Martini. Unabridged audiobook read by
Dan Woren.

This book picks up shortly after Martini's previous book, Guardian of Lies, ends. The only person to survive the carnage in the last book is the notorious bad guy called "The Mexicutioner". He has a vendetta against Madriani and is once again working for someone who wants Madriani dead. There is a very involved plot hatched by a dying senator that could change the entire look of the supreme court. Madriani helps foil the elaborate plans but once again the ending is a cliffhanger and the Mexicutioner is on the loose intent on murdering Madriani's daughter. Stay tuned....

What We're Reading: Edward

Nemesis: a Marcus Didius Falco Mystery

by Lindsey Davis

In Nemesis, Falco suffers two heavy blows, the deaths of his father and his newly born son. He sets fire to their funeral pyre and gets on with his work. As the oldest surviving son, Falco is responsible for his father's estate. Family, friends, and business associates question Falco about the distribution of the estate. Meanwhile, one of his father's suppliers goes missing. Falco is loath to miss a chance at making a great deal of money with statues for a Roman monument. The missing supplier is traced to the swampy area South of Rome. The area is well known for its robbers. Attempts by local officials to clean up the area were thwarted by an unknown Roman official. Falco and his friends take a trip to the area. They are unable to take care of the robbers. Back in Rome, Falco tries to use the Imperial Roman bureaucracy to get to the bottom of the case. He is frustrated with his lack of progress.Is his nemesis, Anacrites, at the heart of this matter? Falco solves the problem is his usual unusual way.

Friday, November 12, 2010

What We're Reading: Rita

To Fetch a Thief: A Chet and Bernie Mystery

Spencer Quinn

This is the third title in the Chet and Bernie series, all narrated by Chet. Bernie is Bernie Little of the Little Detective Agency, and Chet, his partner, is a dog. Not just any dog, but a highly trained canine professional, even if he didn't make it all the way through K-9 school (something about an incident with a squirrel during the final exam). This time out, when Chet and Bernie take Bernie's son Charlie to the Drummond Family Traveling Circus, they discover that the show has been cancelled because the star of the show, Peanuts the elephant, has disappeared. Police later discover that Peanut's trainer has also gone missing, but are reluctant to pursue the matter. Charlie, who has a thing for elephants, begs Bernie to investigate, and when Popo the clown officially hires the Little Detective Agency, Chet and Bernie are off on another case. The series is well written and the plots have plenty of mystery, with a little emphasis on some serious social issues - in this case, animal rights. Chet is the true star, however, and sees more than his fair share of action. Additionally, his insights on humans and their behavior (perps and good guys alike) are amusing but insightful.

Monday, November 1, 2010

What We're Watching: Laurie

Bored To Death. Written and created by Jonathan Ames. Starring Jason Schwartzman, Ted Danson, Zach Galifianakis, Heather Burns and Olivia Thirlby.

Jonathan Ames (Schwartzman), a young novelist and writer for a New York magazine, is experiencing heartbreak as his live-in girlfriend Suzanne (Thirlby) has recently moved out of their Brooklyn apartment. Ames lists himself as an unlicensed private detective on Craigslist which he hopes will help distract him from the emotional pain of losing Suzanne as well as supplement his income while he is working on his second novel. Jonathan winds up involved in many sticky situations as he takes on new cases. Hilarious, quirky, smart and well written. Great chemistry between the actors. Schwartzman at his best.

Friday, October 29, 2010

What We're Listening To: Tracy

Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion, by Disney

In 1969, fans had been eagerly awaiting the opening of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland for several years. This promotional album was released to introduce the attraction, and featured a story, song, and sound effects. The story, about two teenagers who took shelter in the mansion during a storm, did not end up in the final version of the ride, but it remained a fan favorite. 40 years later, Disney has re-released this beloved album on CD for a whole new generation. Dim the lights, turn up the volume, and sing along with the "grim grinning ghosts!"

What We're Reading: Tracy

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall, by Mary Downing Hahn.

Quintessential children's ghost story writer, Mary Downing Hahn, delivers another gem just in time for Halloween with The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall.
Twelve year old Florence looks forward to moving into her uncle's English country manor house, anticipating its luxury and comfort after the bleakness of Miss Medleycoate's Home for Orphan Girls. But something unexpected waits for Florence in Crutchfield Hall's dark corners: the vengeful ghost of her cousin Sophie, who intends to return to the world of the living by sending someone else to that of the dead. Will Florence discover the danger in time, and find a way to make Crutchfield Hall a happy home?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What We're Reading: Tracy

Frankenstein: a Cultural History, by Susan Tyler Hitchcock.

It's been almost two centuries since eighteen year old Mary Wollstonecroft Godwin, soon to be Mary Shelley, penned Frankenstein after a nightmare-filled, storm-swept evening in a villa on the shores of Lake Geneva. Challenged by host Lord Byron to write a "ghost story," Mary's tale went on become a classic of Gothic literature, and her monster one of the best-known in all of horror history.

Susan Tyler Hitchcock's engaging study of the Frankenstein phenomena examines the roots of its enduring popularity and traces the branches of its many cultural iterations. From campy vintage television programming (The Munsters) to contemporary catch-phrases (cloning and stem cell research referred to as "Frankenstein" science), the Victorian monster still staggers through our modern world, and appears likely to do so for the foreseeable future. As Hitchcock writes in her introduction:

"Like myth and dream, Shelley's tale contains multitudes. A kaleidoscope in which the moral vectors shift with every viewing, the story of Frankenstein manages to balance contradictory views of human nature within one story. Frankenstein, the central character, is both hero and sinner; his creation is both a glorious accomplishment and a horror-filled crime. From this paradox the story derives its power, surging out from a short novel written by an English teenager in the early nineteenth century to become a universal symbol and a myth known around the world. This is our monster. To know him is to know ourselves."

This Halloween, spend some time with Frankenstein: a Cultural History, and get to know a classic monster.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What We're Reading: Alice

The top ten first novels of the past year display remarkable imagination and artistry as they take us from Alabama to the Azores Islands, Appalachia, Afghanistan, the Philippines, and Manhattan. Their characters journey from childhood to adulthood, rags to riches, confusion to revelation.

The Sterling Heights Public Library has in its collection eight of the top ten first novels as reported in the October 15, 2010 Booklist magazine.

Check them out!

Anthill by Edward O. Wilson

Bloodroot by Amy Greene

Born Under a Million Shadows by Andrea Busfield

Crossing by Andrew Xia Fukuda

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco

Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne

Ruby's Spoon by Anna Lawrence Pietroni
Rounding out the top ten list are Barnacle Love by Anthony De Sa and Rich Boy by Sharon Pomerantz.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What We're Watching : Laurie

I Need That Record! The Death (or Possible Survival) of the Independent Record Store. Written and directed by Brendan Toller.

explores the possible reasons why many of the independent, or "mom and pop", record stores in the United States are closing their doors. Toller visits several independent record stores and lets the owners/workers talk about why they are closing and what owning/working at the store means to them. Interviews with many musicians on independent record labels (Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Ian MacKaye of Fugazi/Minor Threat, Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers, Pat Carney of the Black Keys, Lenny Kaye of the Patti Smith Group and Legs McNeil co-founder and writer of Punk Magazine and former senior editor of Spin Magazine) help round out this documentary. Independent record stores not only give music fans a sense of community but also help folks discover amazing bands that the national chain stores do not stock. While downloading songs from iTunes certainly is convenient, there is nothing like holding an actual vinyl record or cd in your hand and checking out the liner notes and art work. Support your independent record store!

Some of my favorite local stores:

Car City Records- St. Clair Shores, MI


The Record Collector- Ferndale, MI

Record Time- Roseville, MI

Friday, October 22, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

The Thieves of Manhattan: a novel
by Adam Langer
Ian Minot is a writer from the Midwest. His is using his inheritance to survive in New York until his stories make him rich and famous. His "Romanian" girlfriend gets her memoir published first. She then leaves him for the writer of a gangbanger memoir. Ian faces the inevitable failure of his dream. At his lowest point he meets Jed Roth. Roth works in the publishing business. He knows the pain of having your work turned down for publication. Roth gets Ian to rewrite Roth's failed work of fiction as Ian's memoir. Once it becomes a best seller, Ian hopes to sell his own works and reveal the hoax. But soon the work of fiction/memoir takes on a life of its own. You will be amazed at the way the story unfolds. One of my top ten reads for the year!

Monday, October 18, 2010

What We're Reading: Jan

Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger

Even the title of this new book about Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton is telling: “furious love”. Definitions of furious - stormy, turbulent, and full of fury - all describe this famous relationship of nearly 25 years. Their meeting on the set of Cleopatra and the scandalous affair that broke up both of their marriages led to a vagabond lifestyle with children in tow, great and not-so great filmmaking, and alcoholism. Their passion is legendary and fueled both love and the basis for their nickname, the “Brawling Burtons". The Burtons lived extravagantly with famous jewels that Elizabeth adored (and expected), a yacht, entourages of family and assistants and homes around the world. It was an over-the-top existence lived by a couple that was defiant in their lifestyle. The paparazzi were relentless, revealing all the drama to the world (including the Vatican who condemned their behavior). The authors were able to delve deep into the soul of the couple with Elizabeth Taylor and Burton family interviews and access to Richard’s diaries and love letters. The result is an extremely readable, behind-the-scenes look at one of the most tempestuous romances in recent history.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

Lucy, a novel
by Laurence Gonzales
Jenny Lowe is awakened by the sounds of intruders at her research station. Civil war is raging in the Congo; and now she is in danger. Jenny heads for civilization, stopping on the way at the station of researcher David Stone. She finds Stone dead and his daughter, Lucy, holding on to a lifeless body. Jenny takes Lucy with her.Jenny persuades a State Department official to let Lucy on the plane to safety with proper identification. Back in Chicago, Jenny tries to find Lucy's family. But Lucy has no one. Jenny decides to adopt Lucy. Teenage Lucy has trouble adapting to high school and civilization. Slowly Jenny becomes aware that Lucy is really different. Jenny reads Stone's journals and realizes that Lucy is his child by inbreeding with a Bonobo. Lucy's story becomes known and creates a world wide sensation. Luckily, Jenny and her friends have plan to keep Lucy safe. But will it work when a covert government agency comes for Lucy? Lucy's story will make you cry, laugh, and THINK!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What We're Reading: Cathy

Captive Queen by Alison Weir

Eleanor of Aquitaine is one of the most famous people of medieval Europe. This novel is full of authentic detail from Alison Weir's previous biography of Eleanor. It was also influenced, she admits, by the film Lion in Winter. We follow Eleanor from her marriage to King Louis of France, their divorce, her marriage to Henry, Duke of Anjou and Normandy, and his/their attainment of the English crown. Eleanor and Henry are both very passionate and opinionated people which eventually leads to a disintegration of their marriage and Eleanor supports their sons over her husband in a war. Henry then locks her up for 16 years. We follow her through frustrations and triumphs and see how this strong woman became the person remembered even now, over 800 years later as Eleanor, Queen of England, Duchess of Aquitaine, Normandy, Brittany, and Anjou, Countess of Poitou and mother of King Richard the Lionheart and King John.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

The Doctor Is In: a 7-step prescription for optimal wellness

by Travis Stork M.D.

Dr. Travis Stork gives you his doctors orders for optimal wellness. As an ER doctor Stork has seen the consequences of bad lifestyle choices. Changes you make in your lifestyle can have a profound impact on your health. His seven steps are:
1. Become your own health guru
2. Eat to savor life
3. Give your body a daily vacation
4. Nail your health stats
5. Master the medical process
6. Open your mind to alternatives
7. Make the mind-body connection.
Stork gives us the tools we need to get on the road to optimal wellness. Check this book out and change your life!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

by Thomas Perry
Manco Kapak is robbed by a masked gunman as he tries to make a late night bank deposit. Kapak runs several strip joints outside Los Angeles. He is also helping a drug dealer launder money, some of the dirty money was part of the night deposit. Kapak knows that he can not be weak. He needs to find and kill the robber and get his money back. His thugs are sent out to find a man who is freely spending money. They begin to track Joe Carver. Carver had nothing to do with the robbery. In fact he was in the witness protection program. Carver witnessed a mob hit back in Chicago. Now he wants to try his luck in Los Angeles. Carver gets tired of evading Kapak's thugs. He tries to convince Kapak that he did not rob him. Kapak shoots at him and still believes that he was the robber. But it was an ex-boyfriend of one of Kapak's waitresses that did the robbery. After getting dumped by the waitress , he joins forces with a crazy girl who forces him to be even more daring in his robberies. Will Kapak or Carver get what they want? The ending is a real surprise!

Monday, October 4, 2010

What We're Reading: Abby

Just Kids by Patti Smith

This is a beautifully written memoir of a difficult yet poignant time in the lives of Patti Smith and her good friend Robert Mapplethorpe. The time was the late 1960's and 1970's the place was New York City. They were homeless, hungry and pooled their meager resources to survive. Each believed that they were destined for something big but they weren't sure how. They made a vow to take care of each other and for the most part did just that. Mapplethorpe found his art through the camera but Smith found fame first as a rock star. It is a touching story of their struggles, their loves, their adventures and their rise to fame. But in the end it is also a eulogy to Mapplethorpe upon his untimely death from AIDS in 1989.

What We're Reading: Tracy

The Grimm Legacy, by Polly Shulman.

Many real-life libraries have what are referred to as "Special Collections." These may be comprised of rare books, assortments of paper ephemera, even local history objects.
The Grimm Collection at the fictional New-York Circulating Material Repository is a very special collection indeed, housing magical items from famous fairy tales. Need a pair of seven-league boots? Want to check your reflection in Snow White's stepmother's mirror? Like to take a spin on a flying carpet? The Grimm Collection has what you need...until, that is, its magical objects begin disappearing. It's up to new library page, Elizabeth Rew, to find the objects, and the thief, before it's too late.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

Tutankhamun: the book of shadows
by Nick Drake
Tutankhamun is ready to assume the power of the Pharaoh from his regent, Ay. Supported by his wife/sister, Ankhesenamun, he prepares to battle both Ay and Horemheb, the commander of the Pharaoh's armies. Meanwhile in Thebes, a series of horrible disfiguring murders take place. Are the murders related to the power struggles at the court of the Pharaoh? Rahotep is the police investigator assigned to the murders. He knew Ankhesenamun's mother, Nefertiti. Ankhesenamun summons him to the Pharaoh's court. She persuades him to protect Tutankhamun from someone who is leaving frightening omens for the Pharaoh. Rahotep agrees to work both cases, since he believes that they are connected. Rahotep must stop the murderer and protect the Pharoah. Can he do both?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What We're Reading: Jan

Motown: The Golden Years by Bill Dahl

A visit to the Motown Museum prompted a read of this title that covers the history and personalities of the fabled music company. It highlights the major acts such as the Supremes, the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder with chapters of their own. An A-Z listing covers lesser known singers, writers, producers and others that contributed to the success of Motown. The story of Berry Gordy himself is compelling. His initial investment of $800 turned into millions within years of starting the company in 1959. Insight into how he sold his ideas and the deals and sometimes disagreements that resulted from so much talent around him are fascinating. There are plenty of photos of favorite Motown stars in the book and discographies as well. It's the story of the Motown sound that so many Detroiters grew up with - and that is still loved all over the world.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

Book of Spies
by Gayle Lynds
The Emperor Trajan's Column in Rome is a well know tourist spot. But few know that Trajan loved books. In fact the column was built to be in the courtyard between two libraries. Later Trajan's collection of books was moved to the Eastern Empire. It became the foundation for the Library of Gold. Later Emperors added books and had them covered with gold and jewels. With the fall of the empire the collection eventually became the property of the Russian Tsar. Now a secret cabal has the books and their secrets. One of the books, the Book of Spies, is stolen from the Library. It was smuggled out with secret information on a bank account for terrorists. Is the terror plot the work of the group or just one of the members? The cabal and the CIA both struggle to get possession of the book and its secrets. Will the secrets of the Library of Gold be revealed?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What We're Listening To: Tracy

James Kibbie's Bach Organ Works

Dr. James Kibbie has recently made his recordings of the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach, recorded on baroque organs in Germany, available for free download. Kibbie, Professor of Organ at the University of Michigan, spent two years in Europe performing on antique instruments suited to Bach's compositions, for which they were originally written. 270 pieces can be downloaded from the University's music site,
which comes complete with a searchable catalog.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What We're Reading: Abby

Fodor's Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a beautiful country with so much to see and experience!
It is located in Central America with Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south. It's a peaceful country without a standing army.
There is great surfing on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. In the Monteverde rain forest you are on top of the continental divide and can see both coasts! Eco-tourism is very big with trips to the rain forest to see the flora and fauna which is abundant and melodic! Some of the best coffee in the world is grown on the sides of the mountains in Costa Rica.
The best time of year to visit is December - March when the rainy season is over (there are basically two seasons in Costa Rica, rainy and dry!) There are many volcanoes scattered throughout the country five of which are considered active. Many people go to the area of the Arenal volcano to soak in the thermal hot springs connected to the volcano. They are said to have therapeutic properties and ease all kinds of aches and pains. Since the topography is so varied you can be way up in the mountains in a cloud forest and a couple hours later be lounging on the beach with a pina colada! It can be cool at the higher elevations and very hot and muggy on the coasts.
The capital is San Jose which is a big, noisy city that most people only see from the airport. There isn't that much to see in the capital so most people head right out to other destinations upon arrival. There is great fishing as well as bird watching and nature trails throughout the country. Hummingbirds are everywhere and if you're lucky you might catch a peak at a toucan or the rare quetzal. Birds you would never think to see anywhere but in a zoo are flying free in Costa Rica.

What We're Reading: Cathy

The King's Mistress by Emma Campion

This is the story of the infamous Alice Perrers, mistress to King Edward III. We follow her from her roots as a merchant's daughter, a wife, and then her life at court. The king dotes on her, gives her valuable gifts of land and jewels which she sees as building security for herself after he dies (he's over 20 years older than her) and also as dowries for her daughters. Others see her as a money- and power-hungry upstart. When the king dies, she must fight for her daughters, her son, and her life. There is lots of detail about medieval life and the wonderful fabrics and jewels that they wore. Emma Campion also writes medieval mysteries under the name of Candace Robb.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

This Summer National Public Radio (NPR) asked its listeners to vote for their favorite Killer Thriller novels, fast-moving tales of suspense and adventure. Over 17,000 ballots were submitted to NPR with a total of 600 recommended novels. Then the list was voted on by 100,000 listeners to get to the final list of 100 novels. The final list contains novels as new as 61 Hours by Lee Child to classics like Dracula by Bram Stoker. On the list were 6 novels by Stephen King, 4 by Lee Child, and three each by Michael Crichton, Dennis Lehane, Dan Brown, and Steig Larson. Check out the list at npr.org, then search for Killer Thriller. I have read almost half of them. How many have YOU read?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What We're Listening To: Cathy

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Journalist Juliet Ashton is hunting for a subject for her next book when she begins a correspondence with residents of isle of Guernsey. They tell her about their life under the Nazi occupation and how their book club kept them from being arrested by the Nazis and also kept them sane. Juliet becomes very attached to these people and their island and also discovers her next book project. This novel is written as a series of letters between Juliet, the islanders, and her friends and the audio format is great. You feel she is really talking to you about her experiences. And yes, you find out what a potato peel pie is and why the society was given that name.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What We're Reading: Tracy

Fall Picture Books

Fall is almost here: the weather is turning cooler and the nights are growing longer. It's the perfect time to cozy up with a good picture book. Here are some favorites for fall:

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, by Julia Rawlinson.
Fletcher the fox is very worried: his favorite tree is losing its leaves. Fletcher tries to help, holding the last leaf in place, but the strong fall wind wrenches it away. What will happen to Fletcher's tree?

ooray for Fall, by Kazuo Iwamura.
A mother squirrel knits red sweaters for her three little ones. The tiny squirrels wear the sweaters out into the woods, where they discover autumn's colors all around.

By the Light
of the Harvest Moon, by Harriet Ziefert.
Pumpkin people assemble for a seasonal party under the golden light of autumn's harvest moon.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What We're Reading: Brenda

Fragile by Lisa Unger

Fragile is a mystery set in a small town called The Hollows within commuting distance to New York City. It's a place where everybody knows one another and it's hard to keep secrets. Maggie, a psychologist, and her husband Jones, a detective with the local police force, have both grown up in the Hollows and lived there most of their lives. When Charlene, the girlfriend of their teenage son, goes missing it brings back memories of another girl who went missing years ago when Maggie and Jones were teens. Soon Jones is acting strangely, even going as far as to suspect his own son. The investigation into Charlene's disappearance ultimately leads to the uncovering of a long-buried town secret that threatens to destroy everything Maggie and Jones hold dear. This is a fast paced novel with a lot of twists which will keep you guessing almost to the end. The author does an excellent job of creating believable characters and relationships. I will definitely be checking out Lisa Unger's earlier works!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

Fitzgerald Ruse
by Mark De Castrique
Former military policeman, Sam Blackman, is still recovering from the loss of a leg in Iraq. In this second adventure, after Blackman's Coffin, Sam is setting up a detective agency. He and his partner, Nakayla, get their first case. An elderly woman wants them to recover a secret box. They find the box easily, but it is stolen out of their new office. The mystery deepens when they find out that the woman has been murdered. Did the box contain a lost manuscript by F. Scott Fitzgerald? Sam and Nakayla realize that they are being followed. Sam is involved in a shootout at the Grove Park Inn, Ashville's second most famous structure. With two dead bodies, Sam and Nakayla wonder if they are involved in more than one case. Was Sam's injury the result of the winds of war or an attempted murder by rogue security agents? Either way they lay a trap for the bad guys. But Sam and Nakayla seem to have fallen into a trap themselves! Great descriptions of Ashville , it's history and residents!

What We're Reading: Tracy

The Secret Circus, by Johanna Wright.

Most circus stories tend to be rambunctious reads, filled with all the noise and action of the real thing. The Secret Circus, by puppeteer and painter Johanna Wright, is quite astonishingly different. The simple story, of mice who know the way to a tiny hidden circus, is told in a quiet, gentle cadence accompanied by soft pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations.

"Somewhere, deep in the city of Paris,
there is a circus that is so small,
and so secret...
only the mice
know how to find it.
Only the mice know when to go there.
Only the mice know what to wear."

Take The Secret Circus home tonight, follow the mice, and enjoy this unusual outing, a perfect bedtime story.