DVD review: The Hawk is Dying

By , May 28, 2012

Southern literature’s flame dimmed somewhat with passing of bad boy writer Harry Crews earlier this year. The Hawk is Dying is the singular adaptation of Crews’ novels to the big screen. It concerns George (Paul Giamatti) an automobile upholsterer who sublimates the tragedy of his nephew’s death into the obsessive training of a red-tailed hawk. Falconry can be a thing of spirit. It definitely is for George. Writer-director-composer Julian Goldberger does his best to capture the (white) trashed South of Crew’s books (there is a lot of lawn furniture) but with so many recognizable actors it feels a bit staged. The real show is Giamatti chewing said furniture with a live hawk on his arm. It also features Michelle Williams before she was Hollywood’s it girl, or at least before I knew her as such.

Clips from various Crews themed documentaries are included. Having been present for countless author Q&As during my library journey, rarely has greater insight into fiction writing been offered than what you’ll find here.

Book review: Naamah’s Blessing

By , May 25, 2012

Naamah's Blessing Naamah’s Blessing

By Jacqueline Carey

If you like books about alternate history, with a good twist of fantasy, this is a series for you. Naamah’s Blessing is the conclusion of the Kushiel’s Legacy trilogy by Jacqueline Carey. If you haven’t read the other trilogies in the same setting, you won’t be too confused, as it takes place hundreds of years after the first two trilogies.  This book follows the continuing story of Moirin of the Maghuin Dhonn, where she faces the consequences of the choices she made in the first two novels of the trilogy: Naamah’s Kiss and Naamah’s Curse.

Although her novels might be a bit risque, Carey does an excellent job of exploring the idea of acceptance of who one chooses to be with, despite their calling in life. Through the ever present dangers and tests that face Moirin and Bao, her new husband, they always manage to find strength within each other and the friends they make along the way.

Carey also explores the acceptance of fate, as following the will of the “gods” in this trilogy make for a large part of the adventures that Moirin finds herself having. She manages to avert disaster at every turn, even if the cost is very high to her, physically and emotionally.

This is one of the best conclusions to a trilogy I have ever read. Carey has a knack for resolving the issues that arise in her other novels without making it seem too obvious. Parts of the plot that almost seem insignificant and humorous in the first two novels come back in this book with a vengeance.

If you like alternative history and fantasy, with a little bit of romance and adventure, than this is definitely a book for you!


Pleasant reading -



The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II

By , May 24, 2012

This summer Britain has a lot to celebrate not only will they host the Summer Olympic Games but Queen Elizabeth II will be marking sixty years spent on the throne with Diamond Jubilee celebrations. According to Buckingham Palace some of the events will be as follows: the Queen will attend the Epsom Derby, there will be a river boat pageant, a musical concert and 2,012 light beacons will be lit around the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.


If you are unable to travel to London for the festivities you can still celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with these books and DVDs from the library……




Elizabeth the Queen: the Life of a Modern Monarch
By Sally Bedell Smith

“Compulsively readable and scrupulously researched, Elizabeth the Queen is a close-up view of a woman we’ve known only from a distance, illuminating the lively personality, sense of humor, and canny intelligence with which she meets the most demanding work and family obligations.”




Lilibet: an Intimate Portrait of Elizabeth II
By Carolly Erickson

“With her customary psychological insight, historian Erickson traces the queen’s gilded but often thorny path from her overprotected girlhood to her ascension to the throne at twenty-five to her personal and national difficulties as queen.”





Monarchy the Royal Family at Work (DVD)

“A compelling and unique insight into the work of the queen through a full year. Features exceptional access to members of the royal family, including Prince Charles, William, and Harry, uncovering their lives away from the glare of the public eye.”




 The Queen (DVD)

This drama takes place during the days following Princess Diana’s death. Helen Mirren won the Best Actress Oscar for her role.






- Karen




List: Nicolos Sarkozy-Carla Bruni French Sampler

By , May 22, 2012

Nicolos Sarkozy- Carla Bruni List
A sampler list of books, movies, and CDs

Interested in the power, drama and romance of the former President of France?

Satisfy your Nicolos Sarkozy- Carla Bruni curiosity by taking a peak at these titles. Fiction, non-fiction, music and a recently released movie…a little something for everyone.

Dawn, dusk or night  by Yasmina Reza
An all access portrait as Reza, the most celebrated playwright in France spent, a year with Sarkoszy as he campaigned for the French presidency.

Nothing Serious Justine Lévy
A fictionalized account of the end of the author’s marriage after her husband Rapheal’s affair with the future first lady of France. Rapheal and Carla had a son, Aurelien, in 2001….not fiction.

No promises  and Quelqu’un m’a dit
Two charming CDs by Carla Bruni.

The Conquest
“Nicolas Sarkozy’s rise to the French presidency through the lens of his unraveling marriage to then-wife Cecilia.”

Music review: Jeff Buckley

By , May 22, 2012

May 29th marks the fifteenth anniversary of singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley‘s untimely death.  He remains one of the all-time best rock vocalists; Jeff could channel Nina Simone or Edith Piaf in one verse,  then wail like Led Zeppelin-era Robert Plant in the next.
Although he may have struggled with the legacy of his late father folk singer and songwriter Tim Buckley, Jeff was widely respected for his own musical talents.    Who knows what direction his music may have taken had he not drowned in the Mississippi fifteen years ago.  Thankfully we will always have Grace, and you should start with that album if you’ve never listened to Jeff’s music.  An NME critic recently posted an essay declaring that U2′s album The Joshua Tree features the best opening ever.  While Where the Streets Have No Name remains a powerful and awe-inspiring anthem, the fierce intensity of  Mojo Pin  makes the album Grace a worthy rival for the title.

When you’re ready for deeper cuts, go with Sketches for My Sweetheart the Drunk.  These are the songs Jeff was working on for his next album.  And you must watch the concert DVD Live in Chicago to  experience what a bewitching performer he could be.  In addition to the physical copies we have in the collection, visit freegal to download songs from Grace Around the World, So Real, Live at Sin-e, and other compilations.  Learn  more about the life and music of Jeff Buckley through our nonfiction collection.              -crystal

Book Review: Chasing Venus by Andrea Wulf

By , May 21, 2012

Chasing Venus: The Race to Measure the Heavens

by Andrea Wulf

There are many ideas that we take for granted in the modern age. The scientific community, as we know it, works together closely. The ability to trade information is almost instantaneous, and travel to various parts of the world can be as easy as stepping aboard an airplane.

Now, imagine that the world is still vastly unexplored. The United States is still thirteen colonies, under the sovereignty of European nations. Imagine that the countries of Europe are at war with one another over ideological, territorial, and political differences. Imagine that in order to travel to far away places, you must risk life and limb crossing vast oceans, without even the benefit of a decently calculated map. Now, you might understand the problems facing the scientists who raced to observe the transit of Venus across the sun in the years 1761 and 1769.

Andrea Wulf’s fourth book details the hardships, successes, and failures of the hundreds of scientists who banding together to view this celestial phenomenon. It details their quest for the perfect viewing locations, the difficulties in procuring and transporting the perfect equipment, and the personalities that helped make the transit popular world-wide. Their observations of this rare event would help calculate the distance between the sun and the earth, a first for the scientific community. Aided by their respective kings and queens, hindered by war, weather, and disease, these scientists help to form a scientific community that transcends their nationality.

Come hear Andrea Wulf discuss Chasing Venus Thursday at Salon@615: Andrea Wulf.

Her talk is in conjunction with the next transition of Venus across the Sun, occur on June 5 and 6 of 2012, and will not be viewed again for another 105 years.

Pleasant Reading,


Book review: Girlchild

By , May 20, 2012

Girlchild [a novel]
by Tupelo Hassman

Just a little review of a little book that will knock your not so “natural suntan” knee highs right off. The language from the wrong side of the trailer park is pitch-perfect. The landscape painted is Reno palette pure. The sentences read out from the pages in true, full character revealing cadence. By the end of the book you are standing in the center of the 1972 Nobility double-wide. The discounted patchwork carpet of many colors makes you a little dizzy and you know you shouldn’t be privy to all you now know, but you can’t not look.

- Laurie

Book review: Travel Books

By , May 17, 2012

 Summer is almost here and it is a good time to think about traveling.  

With so many different travel book publications available it can be tough to figure out where to start. If I am not familiar with a destination I like to begin with the DK Eyewitness Travel series. These books are filled with hundreds of beautiful color photos and amazing cross-sections of famous landmarks.  While other books will simply list the name of the landmark and give brief details, DK Eyewitness Travel serves it up with incredible, fun detail and introduces you to many sights that you might have otherwise missed.




For those looking for a down to earth travel experience, there is the Rick Steves’ travel series.   I first discovered Rick Steves’ many years ago while watching his PBS television series Rick Steves’ Europe. Each week, Steves’ would travel to a different European destination, often off the beaten track, interacting with the locals and seeing some beautiful sights along the way. The Rick Steves’ guide books work the same way, they mention the fancy places but they also point out the more affordable options too. The purpose of a Rick Steves’ travel book is to arm the traveler with helpful information that they will need to have the best vacation possible and it is often doled out with a dash of humor.





Recently, I came across a book published by National Geographic called Walking Paris: The Best of the City. They also haveWalking Rome and Walking London. These books go perfectly with the DK Eyewitness Travel series and Rick Steves’ books. What this series has going for it is the incredible scope of National Geographic’s photographic library. I have never seen such beautiful photographs in a travel book as the ones in Walking Paris: The Best of the City. Using these books, you are sure to have very memorable travels.



 Happy traveling! 

- Karen




Book review: Ready Player One

By , May 12, 2012

Ready Player One
By Ernest Cline

Watch out bandwagon! Here I come. :)

If you’ve been listening to The Popmatic Podcast (and why wouldn’t you? It’s awesome!), then you’ve heard my fellow podcasters talk about a book called Ready Player One. Jessie and Crystal both mentioned how much they enjoyed the book, so I thought why not?

Why not indeed!

Nerds among us unite. We have found our manifesto and it is good. Seriously, this book has everything you could want: an epic quest, an intelligent but sarcastic hero, an evil villian corporation, and thousands upon hundreds upon tens of pop culture references – especially from The Eighties. Yes, a lot of the action takes place in video game land, but I’m not a gamer of any kind (I’m sure Spider Solitaire doesn’t count) and it didn’t bother me.

Basic premise: in a dystopian US, 50 yrs or so from now, a programming god (think Steve Jobs or Bill Gates) dies and leaves his fortune hidden in his video game – The Oasis. The mission: to find said fortune and protect The Oasis from the Sixers, who work for the evil corporation IOI (in binary 6=101, get it?), and are trying to corporatize The Oasis.

It’s been about a week since I finished the book and I’m still having withdrawal symptoms from a lack of Oasis time. The extra fun part is that I listened to the audio CDs, which are read by (Evil) Wil Wheaton. He’s not the best with voices, but he’s Wil Wheaton, so who cares?

If you watched Family Ties, ever tried to play a perfect PacMan game, know what kind of Apple computers existed before Macs, or get what Ready Player One means – this book is for you.

Very happy reading…or should I say READY PLAYER ONE
:) Amanda


Book review: Roots of Style

By , May 9, 2012

Roots of Style: weaving together life, love and fashion.

Roots of Style shows how Toledo’s artistic development was influenced by her family’s immigration from Cuba, follows her first fashion steps in NYC in the late 70s, and concludes with recent projects like her collaboration with Payless Shoes.

Isabel Toledo has worked with many of the best known and most talented designers and tastemakers of the past 40 years, including fashion editors Diane Vreeland and Grace Mirabella, photographer Peter Beard, designer Katy K, Patricia Field, artist Keith Haring, and New York Times style icon Bill Cunningham.

What lends the book a great deal of its authenticity is the tale of her partnership with her husband, Ruben Toledo. Ruben illustrates the book and at first reading the illustrations are cute, whimsical and just a tad distracting. As their story progresses, the illustrations become an intricate and essential element of the history the two of them weave, as warp and weft.

This is a story of talent and impeccable timing stitched together by a hand-me-down green Singer sewing machine. Artistes, crafters, aspiring designers and doodlers will all find something to love in this book.

- Laurie

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