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.