"Blindside" meets "Hoop Dreams"...

...with a touch of Friday Night Lights. That's the Academy Award-winning documentary Undefeated, finally out on DVD this week.

Undefeated tells the story of a high school football team in North Memphis, Tennessee. The streets are dirty, the school is crowded and dangerous, and it's hard to look past tomorrow. Add one volunteer coach who believes that teamwork and dedication can change the young men in front of him, and this film chronicles a football season to remember.

As Coach Courtney says, "Football doesn't build character. It reveals character." Undefeated does the same, in unforgettable fashion -- don't miss it!
 

You Are What You Read!

With more Impending Doom due later this week, we are doing our best to soldier on and keep our chins up.  We wish to ask the Weather Gods for some sort of encouraging sign.  Actually any sort of encouraging sign would do.  Oh and as for the PA Rodent, not for nothing, but your street cred is in the toilet. This week we have some friends, some dealing, a Quaker or two, a destination, and memory loss.

Let us begin!


Erin is reading with a look toward a feminist slant.  “2013 is going to be my year of reading memoirs as I am almost finished with my sixth: She Matters: A Life in Friendships by Susanna Sonnenberg. This book details the author’s friendships with women beginning with girls on the playground all the way up through the bonds she makes with fellow mothers. Her friendships are intense…some are almost like love affairs. As someone who has always reveled in the company of my own female friends, I find this book to be a fascinating exploration of the unruly, magnificent, and sometimes all-encompassing friendships women enjoy with other women.”


Barbara M.  Still no Paris.  Still no Nazis. Discuss. “Diamonds weren’t always 'a girl’s best friend'. De Beers, the giant diamond conglomerate made sure, through clever marketing, that diamonds became synonymous with everlasting love. The book I’m reading Precious Objects: A Story of Diamonds, Family, and a Way of Life by Alicia Oltuski tells the history of the diamond trade and gives a behind-the-scenes look at that industry. Alicia Oluuski’s father and grandfather were both diamond dealers first in Germany and then on Forty-Seventh street in New York City and she tells the story of that industry from an insider’s point of view. For what it’s worth, I think emeralds are prettier.”


Sweet Ann is happy.  This is good.  She has just finished The Last Runaway by Tracy Chavalier.  “I enjoy historical fiction and  I liked this book.  Honor Bright was heading to Ohio from England accompanying her sister, Grace, who was meeting her fiancé.   Grace died of Yellow Fever soon after reaching the states and Honor continued on to Ohio with plans to stay with her intended brother -in-law. Honor, who is a Quaker, finds slavery horrific.  She is willing to help runaway slaves, who know that in general Quakers will help them.  Many complications for Honor and the people who care for her will arise from this decision.  Although the writing is simplistic, the story is good.  You will remember Honor after you finish this novel.” 

Jeanne is reading Insane City by Dave Barry. “Seth Weinstein and his Groom Posse are on their way to his destination wedding in Miami. Seth is about to marry his fabulously beautiful and successful girlfriend, Tina, whose galactically wealthy and extremely influential parents do not approve of Tina's choice of mate, but they are paying anyway. From the beginning, when the wedding party arrives at Reagan International, the book reads more like an insane stand-up comedy act than a novel with the Posse's airport hijinks and Tina's sister's ‘habit.’ But Barry does give us plots and sub-plots that include redirected affections, large strippers, Russian gangsters and Haitian refugees. The book manages friendships, social issues and conflicts in a manner that is at once funny and entertaining, but also gives the reader plenty to think about.”


Miss Elisabeth of The CL is practically giddy. “I’m currently reading The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley, and I can’t put it down. The book is AMAZING. I haven’t liked an adult book this much in several months. The book follows a young woman who works for the supernatural version of MI5 – a highly covert, secret organization that protects Great Britain from supernatural harm. When the book starts, she wakes up alone in a park, covered in bruises, surrounded by dead bodies wearing latex gloves, and with no memory of who she is or how she got there. An international tale of mystery, intrigue, memory loss, and some extremely pissed off Belgians, this book is just plain marvelous.”

Elisabeth and Krishna's MUOMS Picks

Stay tuned for the movie this summer!
Stay tuned for the movie this summer!

Elisabeth's Picks:

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale - This is the sequel to Hale's bestselling Austenland, which was about a woman obsessed with Mr. Darcy who goes on a Pride and Prejudice inspired vacation at a resort that allows its clients to live a few weeks in the life of an 18th century noblewoman. Following in that story's footsteps, Midnight follows a middle-aged divorcee who needs to get away from her philandering ex and disaffected teenage children. She finds love, mystery, and possibly murder on her Pride and Prejudice themed, Northanger Abbey-influenced vacation. Even with the murder, this book is light, fluffy, and fun. I highly recommend it to Austenites everywhere. And look out for the movie Austenland, coming this summer to theaters!

Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie - Jennifer Crusie is one of my all-time favorite authors. She writes fast, funny, witty romances filled with characters that will live in your imagination long after you put down the tale. I hesitate to characterize her as "just romance" because she is more than pure Harlequin fluff (and I love fluff!). There's an emotional depth to her characters that I really appreciate. Fast Women follows Nell, a recently divorced redhead with a flair for paperwork and a need for a job. She takes a position as the secretary to Gabe McKenna, Private Eye, and sparks inevitably fly. As she works her way through a dangerous case and falls in love with a dangerous man, is Nell moving too fast?

 

Krishna's Picks:

The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman- The dead have come back to feed on the flesh of the living as one small time cop, Rick Grimes awakens from a coma to find that things aren't what they used to be. The gritty reality that the world will never be the same is depicted in wonderful black and white panels throughout this gripping horrific and honest graphic novel. Will Rick be reunited with his family? Will Atlanta and the world at large forever be plaged by these savage fiends? If you are a fan of horror, and apocolyptic survival you may be like me and have a zombie conginency plan but if not after reading The Walking Dead you will make one.

 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio- "When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind." - Dr Wayne Dyer. This quote is the underlying theme for this brilliant debut children's novel. Auggie Pullman is a ten year old boy who has never attended school but more intergal to the story is that Auggie has been living for the past ten years with a facial deformity that makes going to middle school just a little more terrifying than normal. Throughout this novel the children grow, surprise you and themselves and often "choose kind." Wonder is a beautiful coming of age story that will forever be etched on my heart.

Nice New Book Goodness!

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

You Are What You Read!

We all seem to be a little on the quiet side this week.  It could be we are just making preparations for the Impending Doom.  Or it could be that we are just feeling beat up by this winter in general.  Whatever it is, we are hopeful that the PA rodent’s prediction will come through for us and we will see an early Spring.  In the meantime, this week we have some unrequited love, gossip of the librarian kind, knife skills, computer science, some Rez, and another masterpiece.

Let us begin!

Here is Erin’s weekly film pick!  “This weekend I watched 10 Years, a movie about a group of friends reuniting for their 10-Year High School Reunion. Admittedly, I picked it up because it stars Channing Tatum. The film is sweet and will perhaps make you a bit nostalgic for your own hometown and high school friends. There are several storylines that deal with unrequited love, lost love, and people trying to appear as someone they are not. Ultimately, I thought the film dragged in the middle but I still enjoyed its saccharine ending.”

Elizabeth, who can sometimes be found on the Reference Desk, reports in with this, “Ok, I had to check out the book that just won the 2013 Printz Award: In Darkness by Nick Lake. This is historical fiction set in Haiti about a young boy trapped by the recent earthquake.  There is also a parallel story about the slave who liberated Haiti from France. This book beat out The Fault in Our Stars and there is lots of librarian gossip about that decision.”

Jeanne is distracted.  Look-out! “The narrator of Kathleen Flinn's, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks is keeping my mind off the road this week. The author has a lot to share with people who don't (yet) cook and people who already do. There's plenty to learn from Flinn's knife skills tips, simple soup ideas and meal planning. It made me feel virtuous about what I do know in the kitchen and humble about what I don't.”

Sweet Ann is reading Bend Not Break a Life in Two Worlds by Ping Fu. “Ping Fu wrote this memoir to bring to light her childhood during the Cultural Revolution in China during the 1960's and 70's, and her booming career in the United States.  As a young child she was taken from her family to be re-educated  by the communists.  People were cruelly murdered and tortured during this time period.  She was one of the lucky ones to survive.  When the universities opened years later she was able to attend.  She became part of a group that condemned the government.  She was arrested and forced to leave China.  She came to the United States where she struggled with language but enrolled in college and was able to eventually get her degree in computer science.  She is now the CEO of Geomagic, a 3D digital reality solution company.  This is a story of family, survival, determination and one woman's drive to succeed. “

Pat T. has just finished a book that is on everyone’s best of from last year; The Round House by Louise Erdrich. “The life of the Coutts’ family irrevocably changes for the worse when Geraldine Coutts is brutally attacked near the Round House on their reservation in North Dakota. Geraldine’s husband, Bazil, and her thirteen-year-old son Joe watch on helplessly, as Geraldine isolates herself from everyone.  Joe frustrated by the injustice of the laws of the land, tribal, federal and state, takes action into his own hands and seeks to find his mother’s attacker. There are many layers to dissect in this wonderful novel: Joe’s coming-of-age story when his secure family life is turned upside down and he is reluctantly thrust into an adult world; the racial tensions; land title laws; and moral and legal implications of justice.”

I am about half way through Transatlantic by Colum McCann.  Anyone who knows me knows what an evangelist I am for Let the Great World Spin.  Well, LTGWS as it is known in Jen-Land is going to have to learn to share the love.  Transatlantic which is out in June is another marvel from McCann.  These interconnected short stories span 150 years and two continents.  This is a novel worth waiting for and when you get it in your hands it is worth savoring.  I for one am looking forward to have weather excuse to do nothing but read this gem of a book.  For the rest of you it comes out in June.  Get excited.  You have more than sunshine and roses to get excited about.  You have Transatlantic.

Nice New Book Goodness!

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

You Are What You Read!

We are through.  Through with this winter that is!  It would appear that the theme this week is one of wanting to do something, anything different.  So this week we have some deep questions, some modern romance, and a small town in Germany with a small narrator, dysfunction, Moses and some pretty stellar achievement.

Let us begin!

Caroline aka The Lopez has been caught in the act!  The act of avoidance! “I had big plans to clean my apartment on Sunday and instead I read Indiscretion, a debut novel by Charles Dubow.  So as you can probably gather, it’s an incredibly engaging, page-turning story.  Set mainly in the Hamptons, New York City and Europe, this book reminded me of a modern day Great Gatsby. It centers around a close-knit, very wealthy group of friends who are introduced to a younger newcomer, Claire.  The great thing about this book is that it’s told from unusual perspectives, and will keep you guessing while also pondering deep questions like, ‘Even after you find love, success, wealth and fame, why is that sometimes not enough?’” 

Amanda is also in search of some escapism. She has just finished These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer  "The Duke of Avon is a notorious rake in mid-17th century France. On a walk one evening, he rescues a fiery-tempered boy, Leon. Yet there’s more to Leon than meets the eye for he is actually Leonie, a beautiful girl in disguise.  With possession of Leonie, the Duke has finally found a way to take revenge against his lifelong enemy. However, can the Duke carry out his devilish plans as he finds himself enchanted by Leonie’s devotion to him?   This book was written in 1925 and is considered by many to be the originator of the modern romance genre. The book’s themes are reminiscent of The Count of Monte Cristo and Pygmalion (My Fair Lady). While the Duke is described by modern readers as an alpha hero, I find him to be too much of a dandy while the women fling tears whenever they’re in danger of not getting their way. The relationship between the Duke and Leonie is unsettling as he intends to adopt Leonie as his daughter. However, the book is described by fans as being very romantic, so you may enjoy it. The highlights of the book are the cutting exchanges between the Duke and his enemy which are hysterical and clever. So while I dismiss the romance, the conversations are a must read for anyone fond of witty arguments. “


Barbara M. is back!  BUT she is reading about the wrong country and the wrong war.  Discuss.  “I don’t know how I missed this book but I am now reading Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi and am totally enraptured. It begins in World War I in a small town in Germany and the narrator, Trudi, is a dwarf. It is so beautifully written that you can feel Trudi’s pain and anger grow; the pain of being different and the anger towards those who made her an outcast. Trudi’s story is set in the historical context of Germany from World War I onwards. I am savoring this book and am reading it slowly to absorb every word. “


Abby is busting out with a new genre! “Despite a few attempts, I had never read an entire graphic novel. However, since we have a new display going up for Graphic Novels I thought I should give it another try. I was having a tough time trying to figure out which one to try and ended up taking it to Twitter.   I went with a recommendation from a librarian in Seattle I've never met.  And a great pick it was! Stitches by David Small is the story of young David growing up in a painfully dysfunctional home. I don't see how the author could have done a better job relating his story if he had written a traditional memoir. One reason I think Stitches worked for me was the pages are not too colorful or busy.  My past experiences with graphic novels have left me uncomfortable for these reasons.  I have since moved onto another Twitter based pick Blankets by Craig Thompson.  Visually it has some similarities with Stitches and I am enjoying it very much.

Jeanne surrenders! “I am reading The Lawgiver by Herman Wouk. I have been eyeing the book since it came out a few months ago. I could not resist the pull of the legendary author of books like The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. And Mr. Wouk is 97! I wanted to see what he is still producing. The Lawgiver is a novel written in epistolary style with copies of texts, emails, Skypes, diary entries and other communications between the author and people who are trying to convince him to join a project with Hollywood people and rich backers to make a movie about the indefinable Moses. Yes, the one from the Bible. The cast of characters includes Margolit Solovei (which sounds a bit like Marjorie, as in Marjorie Morningstar. Just saying.) who is a young writer-director of just okay comedy and lapsed Jewish faith. It even includes BSW (Betty Sarah Wouk, who in life to 2011 was Wouk's wife of almost 70 years and also his agent). So with the modern communication, the ancient story, and Wouk's wit I am fascinated. “

Sweet Ann is working on some non-fiction this week with My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor.  “This is a wonderfully written memoir that chronicles the early life of Chief Justice Sotomayor to her nomination to the Supreme Court.  Sonia was born and raised in the South Bronx and speaks lovingly of her Puerto Rican heritage.  She shares the hardships she had to endure; juvenile diabetes, an alcoholic father, his early death and her mother's unhappiness. Sonia also happily shares the love of her extended family and the countless people who supported her along the way.  She learns that she must rise above her circumstances in order to achieve all that she can. As a reader, you will be rooting for her the whole way.”

 

Nice New Book Goodness!

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

You Are What You Read!

This week we have a tasty morsel, some fear, some bad weirdness, hope in the heart, some hockey, a crash landing, a dead rabbit and the legend of Zelda.

Let us begin!

Abby is, well, for lack of a better word, excited. “A new book on Scientology?  BRING IT.  I am now about 1/3 of the way into Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief and enjoying every morsel.  The author Lawrence Wright has produced some new information that digs deep into L. Ron Hubbard's past and the roots of Scientology.  Perhaps the only thing more fun that reading this book will be the responses and lawsuits cooked up by Scientology. I can't wait to get to the Tom Cruise stuff.  But like all books on this subject no matter how well researched and written, I suspect I'll be left wondering how the group has managed to assemble such passionate followers based upon (in my opinion) the delusions and pronouncements of a mediocre sci-fi writer. The Church of Abbytology, anyone?”

Pat T. is branching out!” New Year, new genre!! I just finished reading my first graphic novel, Stitches, by David Small and I surprised myself by liking this memoir a lot! This is the author's story of growing up with a troubled mother and father, who as a doctor, treated David with radiation as an infant that eventually caused cancer as a teenager. This graphic novel has more pictures than words, but these pictures accurately convey the character's emotions of fear, anger and resilience. “

Double Secret Agent Erin has a new gig writing reviews for Library Journal so she will no longer be shooting us book reviews as her time is being taken up with Serious Reading.  HOWEVER do not despair!  She will be supplying us with what she has been viewing.  In this week’s offering, Erin takes a bullet for us.  Thanks Erin! “This week I watched Your Sister’s Sister, and I am horrified to see that it received an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes because it was such a far-fetched, insanely bad movie. There is Emily Blunt, who is secretly in love with her dead ex-boyfriend’s brother. There is Iris, a lesbian who sleeps with the guy her sister is in love with, unbeknownst to her. There is a possible pregnancy. There are tears. It was all very bad and weird. What I thought was going to be a low budget sleeper indie set in a beautiful location was just a script that could have been written by Dawson’s Creek’s own Dawson Leery.”

Ann seems happier this week.  This is a good thing. She has just finished The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam.  “This novel follows the life of Percival Chen, a Chinese immigrant, living in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.  He is running a popular English academy and has learned to work the system to get the things he needs.  That is until his son makes the mistake of angering the South Vietnamese government and is arrested.  Percival will do anything to get his son back.  This book has many twists and turns and people will not be what they seem.  It will make you cheer and cry and create hope in your heart.  It's a tough story but it is quite well written.”

Stephanie is enraptured! “The first I heard of The Antagonist by Lynn Coady was the Briefly Noted section in last week’s New Yorker. It sounded like it was about a hockey player, and I will read pretty much any fiction that circles around athletes, so I gave it a shot. This is a pretty great book, though it’s only tangentially athletic. Think Andre Dubus III by way of Where’d You Go, Bernadette, but in Canada. The same blends of macho/thoughtful, sardonic/compassionate, memory/false memory, but the geography was more confusing. I have no idea whether Coady has adequately captured the inner voice of a college male or adult male, as so many of the Canadian reviews of this book make a point of noting, but that seems beside the point to me. It’s vivid and funny and raw, and I loved immersing myself in it.”

Miss Elisabeth has found a new favorite. “I just finished Code Name Verity, the much-buzzed about YA historical fiction book. Librarians are abuzz at its Printz potential. This is the tale of two best friends in the British Service during WWII - Maddie is an excellent pilot in the ATA (the civilian airforce) and Queenie, aka Eva aka Julie, is a Special Operative. Told from one character's point of view for the first half and anotherfor the second half, the book begins after a crash landing. Only one of the friends has a chance of making it out alive. The story is gripping, and my mind was blown by some of the later twists and reveals. With an unreliable narrator, intense tales of heroism and courage, a detailed historical afterword by the author, and frank depictions of enhanced interrogations and the atrocities of war, this is the most adult YA book I've read in a long time. In fact, as the characters are all adults, I'm surprised it wasn't published as adult fiction. Nevertheless, I can wholeheartedly recommend it as the first book I have read in a few weeks that I couldn't put down.”

Where’s Jeanne?  She’s in her car! “I am listening to Whiteout by Ken Follett. The thriller is set in Scotland and I am enjoying listening to Josephine Bailey's clear, lilting voice. The story begins with a lab technician stealing a canister from the top-secret research laboratory where scientists work at finding cures to deadly viruses. Now he's dead and so is the poor rabbit he stole, wanting to cure it. Who was this guy? Were there others involved? Will there be an international crisis? Follett writes greed, deception and unlikely liaisons in such a way that the reader is gripped before they know how creepy some of it is. I never knew I had a penchant for this type of sensationalism!”

I have just started a very promising work of historic fiction;  Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler.  Zelda is one of my obsessions and has been ever since I read Zelda by Nancy Milford.  So for me to really begin to love it just by reading the prologue is really quite something.   Zelda was the wife and muse of F. Scott Fitzgerald and some say the face of the Jazz Age.  It will be interesting to see how Fowler handles one of the most fascinating and legendary  women of the 20th century.

Nice New Book Goodness!

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

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