Monday, January 31, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Star Wars Insider, Issue 122, January 2011.

The library made it once again into the Star Wars Insider, the official Star Wars fan magazine. Last year's Star Wars Day won a spot in the magazine's "Best of the Year" fan activities feature. See the write-up and photo on page 90. Thanks again to the Great Lakes Garrison of the 501st Legion for submitting our event!

This summer's Star Wars Day will be on Saturday, August 13. Check out pictures from last year's event here to see what went on.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What We're Watching: Laurie

Inception written and directed by Christopher Nolan. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger and Michael Caine.

Is it possible to enter a person's dreams? Is it possible to plant thoughts in one's dream in order to change the course of events in one's life? This is the concept explored in Inception. Dom Cobb (DiCaprio) is highly skilled at entering dreams to extract information from a person's subconscious. Cobb has a lot of inner turmoil and is offered a chance to release all of his pain by accepting his most difficult job to date-inception. Can he pull off the dangerous task of trying to plant an idea in one's mind? This is a complex film filled with intrigue, action and espionage.
PG-13. DVD FIC Inception

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What We're Reading: Abby

Ape House: A Novel by Sara Gruen

This story centers around a group of bonobo apes,research subjects at the Great Ape Language Lab where they have learned to communicate with humans through sign language and computers. The lab, spearheaded by Isabel Duncan is suddenly bombed and the apes disappear - only to turn up a short time later on a reality show called Ape House. The apes are alone in the house to do as they please. They order what they want to eat on the computer as their signing is closed captioned for everyone to see. Every single aspect of their lives is exposed and it becomes a huge hit for the man behind the scheme. Meanwhile Isabel, though injured in the blast is trying to figure out who was behind the bombing and subsequent ape abduction. She is trying to save the apes from ultimately being sold to an unscrupulous lab and enlists the help of a reporter and a host of quirky characters to help. You are never sure of anyone's motivations in this very entertaining novel but everything gets tied up nicely at the end.

What We're Reading: Brenda

Immi's Gift by Karin Littlewood and Snow Dog's Journey by Loretta Krupinski

In Immi's Gift a young Inuit girl is ice fishing in a frozen white world when she catches a very colorful wooden bird on her line. It is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen and "she tied it to her necklace next to a small white bear." Over the next few days she catches even more brightly colored objects and hangs them all over her igloo until it is the most colorful thing around. The igloo attracts animals from all over the arctic and they keep her company through the lonely dark nights. When the ice begins to melt Immi prepares to leave but before she does she drops the bear from her necklace into the water. Far, far away a little boy stands on a tropical beach and wonders what happens to the colorful things he tosses into the waves. He spots a small white bear lying in the sand and "hangs it around his neck where once he wore a little wooden bird." This is a beautiful story with gorgeous illustrations that emphasizes how people around the world can connect even when they are far away from each other.

Snow Dog's Journey tells the story of siblings Olen and Anna who build a Snow Dog on a winter's day. Every morning they go outside to play with their Snow Dog and they love him as if he is real. One night the Frost King is flying overhead and spots Snow Dog. He flies down and asks Snow Dog if he would like to come and live with him in his Ice Palace. Snow Dog says yes but as they are flying away he wonders what the children will think. Of course they are very upset, especially Anna, and her brother tries to comfort her but she insists Snow Dog is real saying "If you believe in something, then it's real." In time Snow Dog decides that although he'll miss the Snow King he belongs with the children who loved him and treated him as if he was a real dog. After days of searching he finally finds their cottage and lies down to wait for them. In the morning the children find Snow Dog and bring him inside where a magical transformation takes place demonstrating the power of love and the importance of home. Beautiful folk inspired illustrations add to this sweet, heartwarming story.

Monday, January 24, 2011

What We're Watching: Jan

Small Island

Directed by John Alexander. Starring Naomie Harris, David Oyelowo, Ruth Wilson and Benedict Cumberbatch.

World War II England and its colony Jamaica are the focus of this intense and probing film. The main characters are two couples: Jamaican immigrants Hortense and husband Gilbert and Britons, Queenie and husband Bernard. Hortense and Gilbert are anxious to relocate to the genteel yet powerful England, the Motherland, that they have learned about since their youth. Hortense dreams of the stately homes with doorbells and electric lights in every room. Gilbert fights on Britain’s side during the war for the equality that he expects when he moves to England from his “small island”. They find their dreams sidetracked by racial stereotypes and intolerance in their new surroundings. Hortense and Gilbert rent a room from Queenie whose husband Bernard is “missing” after the war. Queenie and Bernard’s relationship was fragile before Bernard left for his wartime post and Queenie endures hardships while he is gone.. The experience of being on her own opens her eyes to prejudice around her but also her heart to the affections of another man. The result is a secret that affects all the characters and changes the course of their lives. In the end, Gilbert reflects that England is also a “small island” – small in acceptance and tolerance of others. The situations experienced by each character results in raw emotion that the viewer can feel truly feel and the historical setting is enlightening.

What We're Reading: Kathryn

Peace Like a River
By Leif Enger

The latest book discussed by the Mom's Club Book Discussion Group, Peace Like a River by Leif Enger grabs you on the first page, as the narrator of the book is born. Asthmatic Reuben Land comes into this world with failing lungs, and stays in it because of a miracle executed by his father. Though the miracles continue in this book they are surprisingly a sidenote to the story of Reuben, his precocious and charming sister Swede, his hard-working, devout father Jeremiah and his brother and oldest child Davy, an outlaw whom the family crosses the country to find after he is convicted of murder and breaks out of jail. Beautifully constructed characters and rich prose make Peace Like a River, set in rural Minnesota and the Badlands of North Dakota in the early 1960s, a touching and memorable read.
Watch in the coming months for Peace Like a River to be added to our list of Book Club Kits, totebags with 10 paperback copies of a title and discussion questions available for a 6-week checkout. Other title can be found here. Information on the Mom' Club and all of our book discussion groups can be found here.

What We're Reading: Edward

Evil for Evil: a Billy Boyle World War II Mystery

by James R. Benn

Lieutenant Billy Boyle was a detective on the Boston Police Force before he joined the army. He now serves under his uncle General Eisenhower. When the General has a problem that can not be solved through regular channels, Billy gets the assignment. In this his fourth adventure, Billy is sent to Northern Ireland. He is to investigate the theft of 50 Browning automatic rifles and ammunition. Was the theft the start of a German backed Irish uprising? Was it the start of a campaign by the IRA to unite both parts of Ireland? Billy has ties to the ould sod through his father and uncles. Billy finds himself working under suspicion by Catholics, Protestants, and the British. No one seems to be telling him the truth. Soon murders complicate the search for the missing guns. While he tries to solve the case, he learns that the picture of Ireland that he grew up with does not match what he sees. Good series for readers interested in little known incidents of World War II.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

What We're Watching: Laurie

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World directed by Edgar Wright.
Starring Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, Alison Pill, Anna Kendrick, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Jason Schwartzman.

Scott Pilgrim (Cera) is an adorable 22 year old bass guitarist with no job and no plans for the future. Scott is in search of the girl of his dreams. Literally. He keeps having vivid dreams of a redhead and thinks that life would be great if she existed and he could actually meet her. And then Scott sees her at a party. He introduces himself to Ramona (Winstead), asks her on a date, and then discovers that if he wants to be with her he must defeat her seven evil exes. What is in store for Scott? Will he be able to handle these battles? Is Ramona worth fighting for? PG-13.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What We're Reading: Edward

Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire
by Berwin
Checklist Manifesto
by Gawande
Lock Artist
by Hamilton
Her Highness' First Murder
by Herring
Thieves of Manhattan
by Langer
Cleopatra's Daughter
by Moran
by Parris
Cavalier in the Yellow Doublet
by Perez-Reverte
by Poyer
Once a spy
by Thomson

What We're Reading: Laurie

The Liberation of Gabriel King by K.L. Going

Gabriel King and Frita Wilson are best friends who are looking forward to a fun filled summer, especially celebrating the bicentennial of 1976. Gabe is afraid of everything from spiders to Duke Evans, an older schoolmate who constantly bullies him. Frita is an African American girl who is strong willed and faces discrimination on a daily basis. Duke humiliates Gabe at his fourth grade graduation which cements Gabe's decision to stay back and not move on to fifth grade with Frita and the older children. Frita has other plans for Gabe. She is fearless and wants to use the summer to help "liberate" Gabe from his fears so that she and her best friend can move on and enjoy school together. jFIC Going

Monday, January 10, 2011

What We're Watching: Laurie

Milk directed by Gus Van Sant. Starring Sean Penn, James Franco, Emile Hirsch and Josh Brolin.

Harvey Milk (Penn) was a gay rights activist who was determined to fight to make significant changes to his small world in the Castro neighborhood in San Francisco. Milk believed that every person had the right to work, live and love in harmony with his fellow man regardless of sexual orientation. He fought hard against discrimination in his local neighborhood and his friends recognized that he had potential to make his voice heard on a state level. Milk ran for local office three times and was elected to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors in 1977. Harvey's courage and tenacity paid off as he became the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States. Milk's fight really began when he led people across the nation to vote down Proposition 6, which denied equal rights to gay citizens. One year after his election, he and George Moscone, the mayor of San Francisco, were assassinated by Dan White (Brolin), the former city supervisor. White claimed that the mayor and Milk were trying to block his attempt to rescind his resignation from the board. This film is full of outstanding performances and tells the story of courage, friendship and how one man's determination and belief for what is right and just can change the world.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What We're reading: Edward

Exodus Quest
by Will Adams
Archaeologist Daniel Knox is still recovering from his discovery of the tomb of Alexander the Great, in his first adventure the "Alexander Cipher". In Alexandria he sees a bowl for sale that he thinks might be the top to a jar similar to the jars that contained the Dead Sea scrolls. There were two religious groups, the Essenes and the Therapeutae, which existed about the same time as the Jewish exodus from Egypt. At that time the Egyptian Pharaoh, Akhenaten, moved the capital of Egypt to Amarna and started to support the monotheistic god, Aten. Other artifacts from that time period have also surfaced recently. Daniel follows the bowl's trail to a dig run by a religious group. He believes that they are not truthfully answering his questions. When Daniel returns to the dig that night, he is almost killed in an convenient accident. Meanwhile the desiccated body of a girl is found out in the desert. Her autopsy reveals that she drowned! Has someone discovered Aten's tomb in Amarna? Daniel's girlfriend, Gaille, is taking a writer/filmmaker on a tour of Amarna. Her tour group is threatened by a group looking for the Pharaoh's tomb. Daniel races to find Gaille. Will he be able to interpret her clues and find her? Will their discoveries lead to proof that Aten was Moses and that he lead the Jews out of Egypt?

Monday, January 3, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

The Sixty-Eight Rooms, by Marianne Malone.

Have you ever wished you could become small enough to play inside a dollhouse? This common childhood fantasy comes true in The Sixty-Eight Rooms. In this gently told story, two children on a museum field trip discover a magical key that allows them to shrink until they're dollhouse sized. The field trip is to the Art Institute of Chicago, the real-life home of the famous Thorne Rooms, a collection of sixty-eight elaborate miniature settings designed in the 1930s by Mrs. James Ward Thorne of Chicago. The rooms took eight years to complete, and offer views of European and American homes from the 1400s to the 1930s. Their craftsmanship is so fine and their detail so exquisite that a photograph of a Thorne room is virtually indistinguishable from its real-life counterpart. You can see the Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute's website.

What We're Reading: Debbie

Can't Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg

Another charmer from Fannie Flagg (remember her from the celebrity panels of TV game shows?). This one opens with octogenarian Elner Shimfissle falling out of her fig tree after being stung by a swarm of wasps. Her ambulance trip to the hospital is just the beginning of her adventurous travels. Elner's high-strung niece, Norma, and the entire town go into a tizzy over what happens next. This is a very funny story, full of love and surprises, and folks pondering over "why we are here". Many of the characters come over from Flagg's earlier novel, "Standing in the Rainbow" (another great book), but it's not required to read that one first to love this one. If this sounds like your cup of tea, also read "Redbird Christmas" by the same author. Visiting a world created by Flagg is always a treat for me.