Holds alert: April/May releases

By , March 30, 2011

Although these are all a little tragic, they’ve gotten rave reviews and should be some of the most sought-after titles of the spring.  Get on the hold list now before the word gets out!

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin
by Erik Larson

This is the latest from the author who brought you The Devil in the White City.  And mark your calendars: he’ll be appearing at the downtown library on Tuesday, May 10 at 6:15 p.m. as part of our new Salon @ 615 series.


Say Her Name
by Francisco Goldman

With starred reviews in Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews, this looks like one you won’t want to miss.


The Long Goodbye: A Memoir
by Meghan O’Rourke

This is a memoir about the death of the author’s mother; I expect it to be this year’s The Year of Magical Thinking.



New Music Discoveries in the Stacks

By , March 29, 2011

desksetA career in libraries can bring enlightening, rewarding, and even fascinating experiences.   But once you’ve worked in a library, it’s hard to have that “patron experience,” where you spend time just browsing and hanging out in the stacks, looking for a random book, movie, or CD to enjoy.  During a recent Popmatic Podcast discussion we were supposed to share new music discoveries we found in NPL’s CD collection.   Since I  missed the recording session <sorry comrades!>, I share my picks here.

Glasser‘s (aka Cameron Mesirow) electro pop debut album Ring came out in 2010.   Glasser grew up in Los Angeles.  Her father is a member of the Blue Man Group, and her mother was in bands during the 70′s and 80′s.   She cites Joni Mitchell as an influence, but her music makes me think of Bjork or Peter Gabriel.  Glasser’s songs have  a very worldly, international kind of vibe.   The tribal sounding album opener Apply is my favorite track, and I predict it will be yours too.

The late Esquerita and Little Richard look strikingly similar. While it’s a safe bet you’re familiar with Little Richard, Esquerita may not be on your radar.  Little Richard has admitted Esquerita’s major influence on his piano playing, but as far as who came up with the stratospheric pompadour and flamboyant performance style first, we’ll never know for sure.   It is certain that Esquerita came on hard times, and in the 1980′s he had  been working as a parking lot attendant.  He died of AIDS in 1986.  Essential tracks:  Rockin’ the Joint, and Dew Drop Inn.

Dance music is one of my favorite genres, so I was very excited to stumble upon the British band Friendly Fires self-titled 2008 debut album.  It’s a hooky, dreamy, disco-inspired, non-stop dance party!  The Friendly Fires  are about to release their sophomore effort in May.   They performed a well-reviewed set at this year’s SXSW festival, and recently played a single from their upcoming album on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon that I’ll post here.

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Click the album covers below to request these CDs, and please share your favorite library discoveries in the comments!




DVD review: Remembering Elizabeth Taylor

By , March 23, 2011

Revisit some of Taylor’s iconic performances as Gloria Wandrous in Butterfield 8, Maggie the Cat in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and the volatile Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  You can also see her on the big screen this weekend at the Belcourt in Reflections in a Golden Eye, part of their Visions of the South series.  Or learn more about her famous romance with Richard Burton in last year’s well-reviewed Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century.


Mildred Pierce

By , March 23, 2011

Mildred Pierce, the James Cain novel that was made into a classic 1945 film noir starring Joan Crawford, is returning as a miniseries on HBO starting this Sunday, March 27th.  Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce, along with Evan Rachel Wood and Melissa Leo, will star in the new version, directed by Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven).  Check out the 1945 Mildred Pierce (for which Crawford won an Oscar), or the equally chilling Double Indemnity while you wait for it on DVD.


DVD Review: White Collar

By , March 19, 2011

white collarWhite Collar

So I’ve mentioned before that I like NCIS, right? Well, USA plays NCIS all the time, and while watching it an individual is bound to see at least one commercial for an original USA series called White Collar

These commercials intrigued me, so when I saw that the library had  gotten the first season I had to check it out.

Ok, the premise: antihero Neil Caffery (Matthew Bomer) is a con man/forger who gets recruited by FBI agent Peter Burke (aka Tim DeKay).  I thought at first it was just going to be a rip off of Catch Me if You Can (which I really liked) – but it isn’t.  White Collar is good in its own right. There is good bromancial chemistry between Caffery and Burke that stays away from being corny.  This is not your same old cop procedural.

Plus for all of you Saved by the Bell fans, Tiffani (Amber) Thiessen is Mrs. Burke. And Mr. Bomer is pretty good looking, too (am I right girls?).

I don’t know, I just liked this show so I think you should watch it. Ok…

Happy watching,

:) Amanda

Book review: Tour de Lance

By , March 16, 2011

Tour de Lance is an interesting, honest insider’s  view of the 2009 Tour de France, chronicling the goings on of Team Astana and the tension between super Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong, who returned to competitive cycling at age 38, some 3 years removed from his last tour win.

The bottom line is Lance finished third(!), on the podium while Alberto won it. This book is so much more though in that it visits training areas in California and races in New Mexico, Spain and Italy prior to the tour, taking the reader on personal detours, visits with a rural farm family watching the Giro and allowing you inside the minds of the people making it all  happen.

Very detailed with insights from other riders (including Armstrong’s inner circle) and especially Astana team director Johan Bruyneel, Bill Strickland has really put together one of the most absorbing inside looks at cycling at it’s highest level I’ve ever read.

The writing by Strickland is very nuanced and uses context that doesn’t overwhelm but adds to your knowledge of how truly hard professional cycling is and what it takes to finish in the top five.  The picture of the final podium speaks volumes: Andy Schleck, best young rider in white beaming a satisfied smile, Contador in the middle, a curious expression of hard won supremacy and Lance to his left, his kids nearby, with a near sheepish look like “I came pretty close; you were better but I helped you win.”


Book review: Townie

By , March 16, 2011

This phenomenal memoir is like a potent mixture of Tobias Wolff’s autobiography This Boy’s Life with the movie The Fighter.  Dubus is the son of the acclaimed short story writer of the same name, and here he describes his harrowing 1970’s coming-of-age after his father left the family.  Growing up in Massachusetts mill towns, Dubus learned quickly that earning a reputation as a brawler was the best way to keep himself and his siblings safe.  It received starred reviews in both Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist, and James Lee Burke called it “the best first-person account of an author’s life I have ever read.”  I have to agree.

Townie: A Memoir
by Andre Dubus III

Book review: Into the Storm

By , March 12, 2011

into the stormInto the Storm: Violent Tornadoes, Killer Hurricanes, and Death-defying Adventures in Extreme Weather
By Reed Timmer

Spring (boing) is my favorite time (tick tock tick tock tick tock)…

Especially because the return of the warmer temperatures also means the resurgence of thunderstorms – some of which may get exciting and do more than just dump some rain on our heads and light up the skies. We’ve already had a little action in Middle Tennessee this spring…and like the song says, “We’ve only just begun…”

Reed Timmer, author of Into the Storm and veteran storm chaser, first caught my attention with his extreme storm chasing on the Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers.  Unlike the rest of us storm afficianadoes who would be happy enough just to see a tornado or storm, Reed and his fellow chase partners wants to get as close as possible.

And as such, life can get a little interesting. Reed catalogued his most harrowing storm chases (and a few that were busts just to make a point) and put them into this book.  If you’re any kind of weather geek, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to read this one, because you aren’t going to want to stop once you start.  Timmer’s book is almost as good as being there.  Almost.

If you are looking for the next big thrill, look no further.

Happy reading everyone and keep those weather radios on…
:) Amanda

PS You can see actual footage of Reed and his tornadoes at tornadovideos.net.

Book review: Gothic Fiction

By , March 9, 2011

Gothic fiction is an atmospheric mix of horror and romance, full of secrets, madness, gloomy mansions, and the supernatural.  Here are my six all-time favorites of the genre:









The Little Stranger
by Sarah Waters

by Patrick McGrath

The Woman in White
by Wilkie Collins

by Daphne du Maurier

The Distant Hours
by Kate Morton

The Haunting of Hill House
by Shirley Jackson


Music review: Stars – The Five Ghosts

By , March 8, 2011

the-five-ghosts-band-photos-8-largeThe Five Ghosts
by Stars

About five years ago I arrived late to a Death Cab for Cutie concert, but managed to catch the last fifteen minutes of the opening act.  I was sonically amazed; it was as if The Smiths and Kate Bush and The Cure had formed a super group, combining all their talents to create gorgeously bombastic,  achingly romantic  pop music with melodies that wrapped you in a warm blanket of sound.  “Who is this band?!!” I thought to myself.  I found out later they called themselves Stars, and as far as I was concerned, they hung the moon too!

Stars released their fifth studio album The Five Ghosts last year, maintaining the same dreamy pop landscapes they’ve created on past albums, with memorable melodies over fuzzy guitars,  sampled and organic orchestration, and both real and programmed beats.  Essential tracks include I Died So I Could Haunt You, Fixed, and Winter Bones.  Stars recently performed a tiny desk concert for the NPR Music offices which you can listen to here.

If you’ve ever discovered a favorite band for the first time at a live show, sound off in the comments below!                                         -crystal

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