Monday, March 29, 2010

Rob Suggests Frozen River

My friends Laura and Michael recommended Frozen River to us a couple of years ago. They said it was one of the best movies they'd seen in a long time, etc. etc. But they always seem to appreciate more meaningful, serious movies more than I do. I usually crave something on the light side when I finally sit down to watch a movie. And the plot as described sounded rather bleak. Anyway, I only recently got around to seeing Frozen River. It's a wonderful film. Yes, the setting is bleak and the characters face all the grimness that poverty has to offer, but the strength and spirit of the two main characters left me feeling hope rather than depressed. I don't want to give too much of the plot--for this movie at least, I think the less you know beforehand the better. The movie is set in and near the Mohawk Nation, which spans the US-Canadian border--a perfect spot for smuggling. Ray is a single mom making minimum wages and trying to raise 2 boys. Lila, a Mohawk, is trying to make enough money to raise her own child. There aren't a lot of options...
I didn't realize it until I began to write this, but Frozen River won or was nominated for a bunch of awards--for the writing, directing and especially the acting. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sue Recommends Silent Sea by Clive Cussler

Clive Cussler and Jack Du Brul fill the bill for readers looking for suspense, action, adventure, and a bit of history with Silent Sea, the 7th installment of the Oregon Files series featuring tough, smart, tech-savvy Juan Cabrillo. The book works well as a stand alone title.

The drama begins as Juan's crew is retrieving a downed satellite from Argentina and discovers the remains of a WWII blimp. This pushes Juan into a race with the Argentinians and Chinese to prevent them from laying claim to the politically unattached Antarctic continent. The thrills never stop, AND if you listen to the Book on CD read by Scott Brick, you race through the story and are left panting for the next installment. SH

Friday, March 26, 2010

Megan recommends: Amagansett

Amagansett by Mark Mills

This complex first novel by screenwriter Mark Mills packs a lot in -- there's both a love story and a murder in its 400 pages. Amagansett gives an interesting depiction of the beginnings of changes in American society after World War II. Conflicts about race and class abound with rich descriptions of period detail. The book is also just a great read with a taut and suspenseful plot. A good choice for a book group.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Why the U.S. is not Bosnia

April 1865 : The Month that Saved America
by Jay Winik

The people and events of the last month of America's Civil War are described here lucidly and in great detail, making this an absorbing account of the final days of the conflict. Winik sheds light on the apparently serious Confederate plans to wage a prolonged guerrilla war. He suggests that the assassination of Lincoln could have triggered a coup in the North, and his insights into the on-again, off-again "peace" negotiations are incisive. Scholars and Civil War buffs may disagree with some of his assertions, but this fast moving, well-written chronicle will highlight obscure aspects of the war and stimulate further controversy. - Booklist

Winik's book is an successful attempt to understand not only why and how the American Civil War ended, but the reasons that its originating conflict was thereby laid to rest. Why the American Civil War unlike other conflicts like Bosnia or Northern Ireland, that continue to persist ended without the guerrilla war that Jefferson Davis wanted. - TB

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mike Suggests: Sugar

I had first heard about this movie about a half-year ago from the Boston Globe's report on new DVD releases, and had it at the back of my mind to watch when I had the chance; and am I ever glad I found some time last night to watch it. Sugar is the story of a young Dominican pitcher with dreams of making it big and going to America to play baseball. He finds his chance after learning and perfecting a withering pitch, but the story is about baseball as much is it is about emigrating to America. And if you'd like to know more about the link between Dominicans and baseball, you might check out Mark Kurlasnky's (author of Cod and Salt) newest book The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Marcoris.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Piano Legends is a treat!

Whether you are a pianist or simply enjoy listening to classic jazz piano, Piano Legends, hosted by Chick Corea is a rare gem. Performances by great keyboard artists from the 20's and 30's include Earl Hines, Mary Lou Williams, Fats Waller Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Teddy Wilson McCoy Tyner, Bill Evans and others. The camera zooms in to offer the viewer a close up
view of technique, body language, and overall mood. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rob gives a thumbs up to Carl Hiaasen

I was driving to Vermont a couple of weeks ago and I waited until the last minute to try to find a book to listen to with my two sons on the way up. I ended up choosing a book I really enjoyed, not really remembering if it was appropriate for 10 and 14-year-olds. The book was Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen. For those who haven't had the pleasure, Hiaasen specializes in nutty characters and bizarre plot twists wrapped around an environment-friendly message. He's very funny. Nature Girl features a wacky/wise single mom intent on teaching a civility lesson to a telemarketer who has insulted her during dinner. So back to the car ride. I knew the kids would like the humor and the environmental message (they'd already read Hiaasen's young adult books), but I wasn't quite sure about the sexual content. Not to worry though. There were sexual allusions, as there usually are in Hiaasen's novels, but they were brief, mild and humorous. All of Carl Hiaasen's novels are available in a sound format and all are guaranteed to make your drive shorter.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Megan suggests: Betrayal of the Blood Lily

Betrayal of the Blood Lily

I've mentioned these books by Lauren Willig on the Reference Staff blog before. The sixth book in the series has just come out and they continue to be a hoot. After working on a PhD in history at Harvard and graduating from Harvard Law School, this overachieving romance genre fan set about to write an historically accurate romance novel. With the success of her series, Lauren Willig has given up her career in law and is now a full-time writer. If you're looking for light, entertaining reading with a good dose of humor and a little history lesson, these books are for you. All you have to do is get past the goofy covers :-).

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sue Recommends Midnight House by Alex Berenson

John Wells, a CIA operative, is the main character in Midnight House by Alex Berenson. After living undercover for years with the Taliban and saving the U.S. from another terrorist attack in earlier books, he cuts through political intrigue to find who is killing members of a secret unit who interrogated high valued terrorist detainees by any means in Poland. As a result, he uncovers a situation that was covered up by high level agency chiefs in a bid for power and control. This book is another offshoot of the aftermath of 9/11. It offers less action, more political jockeying, than previous John Wells books.
Start with the first and best
book in the series--The Faithful Spy. SH

Authors Speak at Free Trinity Lecture Series

Barbara Brown Taylor author of the spiritual memoir An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith and Diana Butler Bass author of the new A People's History of Christianity: The Other Side of the Story will speak at the upcoming Price Lectures at Trinity Church in Boston. Both titles are part of the Wellesley Free Library collection. PM

Did you Know?

Michael Yapko, Ph.d takes on depression in Depression is Contagious: How the Most Common Mood Disorder is Spreading Around the World and How to Stop It. Yapko asserts that our current biochemical approach to depression does not do enough to help heal those suffering from this very common condition. As depression is both formed and healed in the world of people more emphasis must be placed on learning positive social skills. A detailed action plan is provided to build stronger, healthier social connections. This book will give the reader a whole new take on depression and its effects on relationships, work environments, and communities. You will think differently about what the World Health Organization predicts will be the second greatest cause of human suffering and disability by 2020. PM