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Monday, November 6, 2017

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Space has always held a strange allure to me. Ever since I was little, I’ve looked up at the night sky and pondered the questions of the universe. Alas, as I grew older I realized the laws of physics that unite the universe were way beyond my ability to understand. I’ve continued to keep an interest in stars, but I’ve always wanted to know more. I read “A Brief History of Time” and other galactic texts. While illuminating, I always wanted more. Enter “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry”. This book illuminated a VERY tricky field and made it easy to understand to the lay person. Tyson took one of (if not THE) hardest scientific field and broke it down to the core elements (pun intended). I now feel as if I have a good groundwork for my further research into the stars, universe and everything beyond. Maybe tonight I’ll break out my telescope and start a galactic journey all my own.

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

I'm a sucker for a WWII novel (Nazis in wartime really do make the perfect villains) and Girl in the Blue Coat was no exception. The setting, 1943 Amsterdam, where the German Occupation is in full swing. Hanneke, a 17 year old black market procurer gets a special request from one of her clients. This isn't just the items she's used to; cigarettes, coffee or stockings but she's asked to find a missing person. A missing Jewish girl named Miriam who her client was hiding. As Hanneke struggles to find the clues about the girls whereabouts she inadvertently becomes a member of the Dutch Resistance against the Nazis. With these new found connections, she becomes a first hand witness to the horrors of the Nazi racial policies against the Jews. Vowing to continue her search for Miriam, she finds herself deeply changed by what she has witnessed and will go to all lengths to save her. But will the combined efforts of the Resistance and her connections on the black market of Amsterdam be enough? Sit down, buckle up, because this book is one heck of a ride.

Recommended by Monica Shine

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman

What I thought was going to be another feel good buddy buddy travel memoir turned out to be a really insightful and intriguing read. What would happen if you were in China in 1986 and your traveling partner had a mental breakdown? This is a great first hand account of essentially that question. I thoroughly enjoyed this read!

Recommended by Monica Shine

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

This was a very fun book to read--mystery, intrigue, action, spying, sex, and love! I learned of the Alice Network for the first time from this book--much of the story and history are indeed real, with plenty, especially the main characters, being fictional. This group of spies during WWI was headed by Louise de Bettignies, and she is Eve's boss during WWI in the book. I'd not known she was a real person until after reading this, and it has been a delight to find out more about such a fascinating woman.

The book itself is terrific--it moves in alternating chapters telling the story of Eve, an old, burned out, and emotionally destroyed spy from the Alice Network, and Charlie, a young woman in search of a lost cousin who is running from her family and her "Little Problem". Both women experience emotional upheaval and transformation during this "road trip" to find the past. Excellent pace, characters, detail, and dialog. If you like historic fiction narratives, this is an excellent choice!

Recommended by Cynthia Lambert
Click here to view in the catalog.

Arrival (Drama - 2016)

This is not an alien invasion movie. Well, it is, but not at all the way you expect. You go into Arrival expecting it to be about one thing and a twist at the film’s third act turns it on its head. But it’s for the best. The twist is what makes the movie more memorable. It adds an extra layer of depth to an already great film. Not only that, but the populist themes of nationalism and trade are surprisingly prescient for a movie that was written and filmed well before the 2016 election. This was the Independence Day sequel we deserved.

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

Moonlight (Drama - 2016)

About growing up black and gay in America. So you know, lighthearted fluff. But seriously, this movie is incredible. The final line of dialogue still haunts me months after seeing it. And the entire movie builds to that point - at three points throughout the life of our protagonist, Chiron (childhood, adolescence, and adulthood). Each part could be a fascinating film in itself, with gorgeous colors and impeccable acting. The sum of its parts brings us to an excellent character study that is strictly American.

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

Jackie (Drama - 2016)

For a movie where you know exactly what happens, you sure spend a lot of time at the edge of your seat. Major accolades goes to the screenwriting, directing, and acting there. It’s a simple story that’s executed (no pun intended / too soon?) flawlessly. Yes, Natalie Portman is amazing, but I was particularly compelled by the score and especially by the cinematography. There’s a quick camera shot that shows Jackie’s face from underneath her black veil blowing in the wind that’s absolutely stunning. One of the best shots - if not the best - of 2016.

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