Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

Ursula lives life after life with subtle changes taking place during each one. Some of her lives are long and some are very brief. It gave one a lot to think about, especially about time and choices. Many may wonder about their own lives and the choices they have made and how things might have been different if an alternate course had been taken. Reading this book about Ursula allows one to see the repercussions of making different choices and how that changes things in one's life. This book is ripe with well-developed characters and an intriguing storyline which could easily be bungled in a less accomplished writer.  Atkinson takes the reader on a journey which seamlessly goes from a quiet country home, to London at the height of the Blitz and even to Berchtesgaden and Hitler’s inner circle.  This book isn’t about death, but more about life.  About our possible paths, about family, about history, and about ripples and traps and the horrors of war. 

Recommended by Monica Shine

Power (Season 1)

Dark, sexy, thrilling, and completely bingeable are words I would use to describe the first season of Power.  James St. Patrick AKA Ghost has risen from running the streets to being a premier nightclub owner in New York.   He has a beautiful wife, a penthouse and his club caters to the Manhattan elite.  However he has one dirty little secret; he may dress and act the part of the respectable businessman but has a double life as one of the city’s biggest drug kingpins.  He and his partner, Tommy Egan (played by the scene stealer Joseph Sikora) try to balance their struggle to keep their street business thriving while maintaining the fa├žade necessary to keep under the radar of the police.  As if this wasn’t enough, enter Ghost’s old High School sweetheart, Angela, a US District Attorney investigating drug crimes.   What follows is a whirlwind of twist, turns and love triangles.  So basically, great TV!

Recommended by Monica Shine
Click here to view in the catalog.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Staff Favorite Books of 2017


Our expert staff take a look back at the year and share their favorite titles.  Click on the links below the images to view the item in our catalog.

HARDCORE TWENTY-FOUR                            BEARTOWN                                     THE GLASS CASTLE
by Jeannette Walls                                           by Frederik Backman                                  by Jeannette Walls   

 WHEN ALL THE GIRLS                      THE DEMON CROWN                         THE HATE U
HAVE GONE                                                                                                                     GIVE
by Jayne Ann Krentz                                          by James Rollins                                         by Angie Thomas

A LONG WAY HOME                           JANE, UNLIMITED                         A MAN CALLED OVE
by Saroo Brierley                                              by Kristin Chashore                                  by Fredrik Backman

 PLEASE DON'T TELL MY                                     DRAFT NO. 4: ON                                     NEW YORK 2140
                                                                                                          THE WRITING PROCESS
Hoopla Audiobook                                             by John McPhee                                         by Kim Stanley Robinson

by Judy Blume                                                 by Tana French                                                     by Grant Ginder

Staff Favorite Movies of 2017


Our expert staff take a look back at the year and share their favorite titles.  Click on the links below the images to view the item in our catalog.

         Baby Driver                                             Dunkirk                                       All Eyez On Me 

   Game of Thrones (S7)                    Guardians of the Galaxy v.2                       Hacksaw Ridge


           Maudie                                          Orphan Black (S5)                             A Man Called Ove

 Stranger Things (S1)                                Riverdale (S1)                                                   Sully

         Westworld (S1)                               This is Us (S1)                                   Wonder Woman

Fierce: How Competing for Myself Changed Everything by Aly Raisman

Most of us only see Gymnastics every 4 years during the Olympics. The Olympic Games, the world's most prestigious sporting event is the pinnacle of sport and achievement. But what we don’t always see is the behind-the-scenes. How does one athlete get picked above the others to compete and why? After all, they don’t magically appear at the event. This is where Aly Raisman's biography "Fierce" fills in these much needed gaps and gives us her honest (and in a certain chapter her bravery) on her road to London in 2012 and Rio in 2016.

I've always had an interest in Gymnastics, the way they tumble on the floor, flip and turn all on a 4-inch wide beam, swing and release on the uneven bars, and rocket to heights on the vault. These feats always seemed like something for superheroes, and I wanted to know more and more about this seemingly impossible sport.

What is most appealing about Aly is that she is not a child prodigy. She was not born with an innate ability to perform gymnastics spectacularly well. She was (and still is) good—great, even—but only because she was passionate about the sport and put in the work necessary to stand out. This book chronicles her tenacity and determination to make it to not one but two Olympic teams. She also is vocal about the abuse she suffered at the hands of now convicted USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

I appreciate such honesty, and in an autobiography that can be rare.  especially sports biographies.  There are platitudes about how much hard work is needed; rinse, wash, repeat. But Aly doesn't shy away from the gritty parts of being an elite gymnast.  She tells us about the times she was made fun of for being muscular, her mixed relationship with social media commentary, and her struggle with healthy living.  

Now I'm far to old (and out of shape) to be a gymnast on any level, but Aly's biography let me see something of myself in this Olympian.  If you love gymnastics, the Olympics, or sports biographies in general ,"Fierce" will satisfy all your cravings.

Recommended by Monica Shine
Click here to view in the catalog.

Get Out (Horror - 2017)

Horror, thriller and social messages all blend together into a gripping and formidable nail-biter in "Get Out," the astonishing directorial debut of Jordan Peele. You may recognize the name as a half of the comedy duo "Key & Peele". Whilst establishing himself as a master comedian. He can now add master writer and director to his impressive resume. What emerges is unforgettable, unmistakably modern film which hits on all cylinders with almost no misfires.

In the tradition of "The Stepford Wives" with the twist of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?," the story follows a young black man named Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) who goes to meet his girlfriend, Rose's (Allison Williams) parents at their fancy estate where things go from slightly uncomfortable to unmistakably sinister within an evening. From this unsettling beginning, the film quietly but effectively builds to a crescendo, that forces the viewer to see prejudices head on.

Without giving away the plot (trust me, you'll want to see if you can figure it out by yourself), not a single scene has been wasted, every little aspect of the movie has a purpose, and ultimately, that's what movies should be about: telling a story with so much love for its details that a viewer can simply sink into the movie and forget what's happening around him.

Recommended by Monica Shine
Click here to view in the catalog.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

There are those books that are important and timely, worthy of reading because of the social and/or political message that they send. They fill a gap in the market; they make waves. They need to exist. And there are other books that are well-written, emotionally-charged and unputdownable - books that are not important as such, just really good. But, on occasion, you find one of those rare wonderful creatures that is both important AND really good. The Hate U Give is one of those books. 

Starr Carter may only be sixteen, but she has already witnessed two murders of close friends in her life: the first of Natasha a 10 year old black girl in a drive by and the second of a 16 year old Khalil an unarmed boy shot multiple times by a cop. While she was in the car. Even though they didn’t do anything wrong. Even though he was unarmed. 

The strongest aspect of this book is it's social commentary and political criticism. This is the kind of book that should be in the hands of teens, making them aware of current issues, educating them on pressing matters, and encouraging them to get involved to create change. I absolutely left this read with an entirely new perspective I will carry with me in the future. It poses many important questions about racism, police brutality, discrimination, and prejudice while also answering them in a comprehensive and inviting way.

This book is everything it's been hyped up to be; revolutionary, poignant, heartbreaking and a voice that needs to be heard, no matter what your color.

Recommended by Monica Shine