Monday, January 31, 2011

Tracy recommends "Jake"

Ten year old Jake has only talked to his Grandfather on the phone at Christmastime. But when his Mom breaks her leg,

Jake’s Grandfather comes to help out. This is a heartwarming story about family and friends pulling together in a crisis.

Jake finds out that he is up to the task.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Colette recommends "The Virgin Suicides"

THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, published in 1993, was written by Jeffrey Eugenides who went on to win the Pulitzer for MIDDLESEX a decade later. Many saw the 2000 movie, but never read the book. I may be 20 years late in reading it, but am SO glad that I did because, in spite of 30 year difference in time, its message and social significance is just as compelling today.

The book is narrated by one of the many young boys, now grown, who obsessed over the Lisbon sisters during that strange and unusual year set in comfortable suburban Grosse Pointe area in the early 70s: to the outside observer, living the American Dream. The memories and ‘investigations’ attempt to make sense of the events and for all the detailed examination of the people and the times, no definitive answer can be provided as to the moment why/when things turned (imagery of rotting, decay). It is especially interesting if considered with the “Tiger Mother” concept that is so much in the news these days, questioning the results of such pressure to young girls/women.

As a reading pleasure, don’t miss this book IF you can get past the grief and the darkness. The writing is rich and descriptive and lush and full of wonderful images and metaphors. It explicitly re-creates and examines the illusion of normalcy in a culture and community. Eugenides writes with such imagination and grace.

Recommended for Adults and Mature Teens.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gretchen recommends "Burn" by Nevada Barr

While taking a mental health break from her job in the wild, Anna Pigeon stumbles onto a new case in the “Big Easy,” a city her creator knows well. Nevada Barr’s latest mystery in the popular series is set in the urban streets of post-Katrina New Orleans—Barr’s current hometown. The National Park Service even has a presence in the city! “Burn” takes Anna on a lurid descent into the dark reality of pedophilia and the child sex trade. Anna learns that people aren’t necessarily who she thinks they are. Without giving away a major plot twist, the novel’s character development is very intriguing. Despite the grim subject matter, Barr’s characteristic depiction of the park ranger as she navigates her middle years keeps us wanting to read more. This title is appropriate for adults.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kathy recommends "Rose in a Storm" by Jon Katz

Have a large hot chocolate and a warm blanket handy when you read Rose in a storm. The title character is a border collie/shepherd mix. And while author Jon Katz tells his story from Rose’s point of view, this is not another story of an animal that thinks like a human. Rather, Katz does an amazing job of creating a world of instinct and sensory perception as he envisions the mental processes of Rose and the farm animals she’s responsible for during a storm of epic proportions. When her farmer, Sam, is airlifted out after suffering a devastating accident, Rose stays behind. Alone, she faces enormous challenges during a cataclysmic blizzard that lasts days. Protecting all those in her care – sheep in labor, cattle, chickens, goats, a donkey named Carol, and a wild dog from a neighboring farm – you will root for Rose every step of the way.

Recommended for adults and young adults.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Deb recommends "Moon Over Manifest"

The year is 1936 and Abilene Tucker can’t understand why she has been sent to Manifest, Kansas, for the summer while her dad, her only family, works on the railroad in Iowa. She has lived her whole life with her father, traveling the rails and never staying long in any one place. Manifest was the town Gideon Tucker left years before but he has never been back. She finds friends in Lettie and Ruthanne and a mystery in a box of old letters and keepsakes and a summer long “spy hunt” ensues. As she works off a debt for Miss Sadie she learns about the past. It is through the stories Miss Sadie tells of the town and its inhabitants 18 years earlier and a regular newspaper column from the same time period that Abilene comes to understand her father. The characters are well defined and the dialog believable. The two stories, past and present, are neatly intertwined. Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool is an excellent slice of life of mid-America. Recipient of the 2011 Newbery Award. For grades 5-8; adults may enjoy it as well.

Lisa recommends "Just Dance 2" (Wii)

If you are looking for the newest party game, make sure you check out Just Dance 2. I was a little skeptical when told I had to hold a controller and mimic dance moves on the screen. All I needed to do was pull out my super-competitive family as we rocked out to Outcast, Wham, Avril Lavigne, and more. The music is catchy and the dance moves will make you reminisce as you pull out Walk Like an Egyptian or the Carlton (from Fresh Prince of Bel Air). When the adults started taking over, we pulled my 5 year old niece into the mix and she was able to do the same moves and be competitive. (Note-lyrics were cleaned up to be suitable for everyone.)

Suitable for the whole family. If you tire of the music on this one, pick up the original Just Dance.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jamie recommends "Doo-Wops and Hooligans" by Bruno Mars

I think one of the best albums I listened to in 2010 was “Doo-Wops and Hooligans” by Bruno Mars. Last year he penned some of the catchiest tunes on the radio, but his solo effort is terrific. His voice at times is reminiscent of a young Michael Jackson, but he brings his own blend of tone and soul to his songs. From beginning to end the album is wonderful. We’ve all heard “Just the Way You Are” and his new single “Grenade” is getting a lot of play, but his playful side is revealed on “Marry Me,” along with an introspective side with “Talking to the Moon.” If you like talented musicians and have a minute, check out Bruno Mars.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Jamie recommends "Sports Night"

I’ve been an Aaron Sorkin fan for a while mostly because of the fabulous series “The West Wing,” but I had yet to check out “Sports Night,” which ran for two seasons. I recently got an opportunity to watch the complete series and I must say I really enjoyed it. This half-hour dramedy revolves around a cable sports show and while there are sports references, you definitely don’t have to be a sports fan to appreciate the storylines of the series. The characters are interesting and by the end I was hoping there was just one more disc to check out. If you’ve got some downtime I definitely recommend checking out “Sports Night” from CMPL’s collection.