Thursday, April 28, 2011

What We're Reading: Edward

Officer's Club

by Ralph Peters

Arizona's Fort Huachuca was founded to keep Geronimo in check. In the 1980s it serves as a Military Intelligence training facility. Wounded by the Vietnam War, the Army is focused on the expected war with Russia in Europe. Lieutenant Roy Banks is tasked by his superiors with devising a difficult battlefield scenario for the Fulda Gap. To deal with the isolation of the fort, Banks and his fellow officers form the Officer's Club. It is code for their Mexican weekends fueled by alcohol and sex. Lieutenant Jessica Lamoureaux works her wiles on her fellow officers. Banks resists her and warns everyone that she is trouble. Jessica manages to destroy many of the lives she touches. When she is found dead, Banks is asked to help find her killer. Banks matures over the course of the novel by confronting his own demons. May there be a another novel at Bank's new posting.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Totally Tubular '80s Toys, by Mark Bellomo.

If you grew up playing with Smurfs, Transformers, Strawberry Shortcake, Masters of the Universe, or Mork and Mindy action figures; if you traded puffy, glitter, or scratch and sniff stickers with your classmates; if you watched The A-Team, Fraggle Rock, or the Dukes of Hazzard on TV: then this book is for you. Author Mark Bellomo writes nostalgically of the toys, music, movies, and TV shows of the 1980s, and accompanies each entry with beautifully photographed layouts of items from his vast collections. Take a trip down memory lane with this "totally tubular" book!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What We're Reading: Edward

The Ninth: Beethoven and the World in 1824

by Harvey Sachs

Endure Courageously, Millions!
Endure for the Better World!

These lines are part of Schiller's Ode to Joy. They were used by Beethoven in his ground breaking Ninth Symphony. It was the first symphony to have a vocal score. When Beethoven wrote this symphony, Europe was in a reactionary period. After the freedom of the Napoleonic era, the monarchies of Europe were limiting the rights of their citizens. In 1824, Lord Byron was killed trying to help Greece rebel against the Ottoman Empire. Pushkin was writing Boris Gudunov, an anti-authoritarian play. Beethoven's Ninth is a cornerstone of Romantic music. Inspired by the artists of the day, the peoples of Europe kept hoping and struggling for freedom. Is history repeating itself? For today we see citizens fighting for their freedom all over the world!

What We're Listening To: Laurie

Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons

This British outfit has constructed a solid debut album in Sigh No More. Mumford & Sons are a folk band who offer up emotional ballads like I Gave You All and White Blank Page along with raucous, foot stomping songs such as Roll Away Your Stone and Little Lion Man. There are also hints of bluegrass and Americana intertwined throughout the record. If you like Blitzen Trapper and The Avett Brothers you'll enjoy Mumford & Sons, and may even find yourself anxiously anticipating another album.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What We're Watching: Laurie

127 Hours directed by Danny Boyle. Starring James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Burton, Kate Mara and Treat Williams.

Aron Ralston (Franco) loves the outdoors and craves adventure. Ralston has a passion for mountaineering, canyoneering, rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking-anything that poses a physical and mental challenge. In this true story, Aron finds himself in his toughest battle with nature. He went out to Blue John Canyon in Utah for a typical weekend of biking and hiking, and found himself trapped between the canyon walls when a boulder gave way and pinned his arm against the rock. Ralston was trapped for five days with very little food and water, and no one to help him out of this jam. He did not let anyone know where he was going, he did not have a mobile phone and there was no one around to hear his calls of distress. Dehydrated, completely depleted and on the verge of death, Aron found an immense inner strength and will to survive. After five days of literally being caught between a rock and a hard place, Ralston amputated his own arm with a cheap, dull multitool, rappelled down a 65 foot sheer wall, and planned to hike the 8 miles back to his truck in the terrible heat to try to save himself. This is an incredible survival story of a 27 year old man who searched deep within himself and unleashed unbelievable physical and mental strengths to survive. Rated R. DVD FIC ONE. Read the book Between A Rock And A Hard Place by Aron Ralston for a more in-depth account of this survival story. B Ralston.

What We're Reading: Edward


by P. C. Doherty

The Crusades and the Knights Templar are part of the romantic past for most of us. What kind of fortitude did it take to make the journey from France to the Holy Land? In this the first of a new series, Doherty exposes us to the real trials and tribulations faced by the men, women, and children of the Crusades. The story begins in 1095, when Pope Urban II called for the support of the Byzantine Emperor against the invading Turks. The First Crusade escalated into a effort to free the Holy Land. Eleanor, the sister of Hugh de Payens, tells us what she sees and hears during the trip from Burgundy to Jerusalem. The trip was not easy. The Crusaders suffered from hunger and thirst, primitive living conditions, bad weather and even battles with their allies. It was their strong belief, DEUS VULT, that allowed them to endure and conquer. Hugh De Payens and his friend, Godefroi of St. Omer will go on to be the founders of the Knights Templar.

Friday, April 8, 2011

What We're Reading: Cathy

Becoming Queen Victoria by Kate Williams

Did you see the movie The Young Victoria with Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend? It's an excellent depiction of the way Victoria lived before she became queen and the early years of her marriage to Prince Albert. I highly recommend it. This book (Becoming Queen Victoria) is more in depth version of that story. The first part of the book is the story of Princess Charlotte who everyone thought would be the next Queen. She died in childbirth however. It is truly amazing that at this point, King George III's 13 children had given him 56 grandchildren but not a single legitimate heir. So the race was on to produce a new heir to the throne. The king's brother Edward, Duke of Kent won and produced Princess Victoria. She had a rather unhappy childhood, restricted by her very controlling mother and her advisor John Conroy. One month after her 18th birthday, Victoria became queen. Her life and the life of the nation were changed forever. Victoria's reign ended the self-indulgent Regency era and introduced an age of wholesome family values (to use a modern term) which may have saved the crown.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What We're Reading: Tracy

Brontorina, by James Howe, illustrated by Randy Cecil.

"Brontorina had a dream.
'I want to dance.'
'But you are a dinosaur,' Madame Lucille pointed out.
'True,' Brontorina replied. 'But in my heart I am a ballerina.'
Madame Lucille wondered what to do. She had never had a dinosaur as a student before. Dinosaurs were rather large. And this one certainly did not have the right shoes."

So begins James Howe's delightful new picture book, Brontorina. Poor Brontorina: she is too big to fit inside Madame Lucille's dance school (and she doesn't have the right shoes.) Will she ever find a way to realize her dream? The answer is revealed on the final two page spread, which features an illustration of "Madame Lucille's Outdoor Dance Academy for Girls and Boys and Dinosaurs...and Cows."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What We're Reading: Edward

Deadline Man

by Jon Talton

An unnamed business columnist for a Seattle newspaper is on deadline. He interviews a source for information on a company, Olympic International. He barely makes it down the twenty stories of the office building to the street, when his source smashes into the pavement. The Columnist is interviewed by authorities but has nothing to tell them. Soon he finds himself being followed. Then he realizes that his apartment has been searched. The Columnist finds himself without a job as his newspaper is downsized. Working with a reporter still at the newspaper, the Columnist deepens his investigation into Olympic International. He soon discovers that the company is an empty shell. But he keeps hearing the phrase, eleven/eleven. His continuing investigation results in several attempts on his life. What massive conspiracy has he stumbled onto?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What We're Listening To: Abby

Rodrigo y Gabriela, audio CD, Rubyworks, 2006.

11:11, audio CD, ATO Records, 2009

This is the most original, innovative music I have heard in a long time. It is heart pounding, foot stomping flamenco-like latin fusion music by two musicians adept at their craft and able to produce incredible sounds on their acoustic guitars.
Rodrigo and Gabriela have been friends since they were teens in Mexico City. Each had their own band and each tried but failed to be accepted into the Conservatory. Their love of heavy metal and rock brought them together. When things weren't happening for them in Mexico City they decided on the spur of the moment, with very little money and barely able to speak English, to travel to Europe. Their first stop was Dublin where the promise of a place to stay fell through so they had to start busking (playing in public for tips and gratuities). Their reputation spread and they were hired to play at weddings and gallery openings and ultimately clubs. Within a year or two they produced a CD and that in combination with their live performances launched their careers. They are still based in Dublin and tour all over the world.