Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rob Recommends the Movie "Waste Land"

I have to admit that I was not overly anxious to see the film. My wife heard that it was good and insisted we try it. But somehow a movie about garbage pickers in a Brazilian dump didn't seem like the most uplifting film in the world. Wrong on both counts: It was a great film and it was definitely not depressing. Director Lucy Walker films artist Vik Muniz as he engages the catadores of the vast Jardim Gramacho dump on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, in an art project. The pickers are actually recyclers, a distinction they are quick to point out. They are paid by recycling wholesalers to reclaim specific materials from mountains of garbage. During the course of the film we get to know about five of the pickers. What makes the film so absorbing is the attitude of Muniz and Walker, both avoiding the twin traps of romanticizing their subjects or viewing them as specimens through some laboratory instrument. The artist's goal of transformation is accomplished mostly by the group's participation in the project, but also more materially in raising money for the pickers' own Association of Recycling Pickers of Jardim Gramacho. A wonderful movie.

Debra recommends: Four Seasons in Rome : on twins, insomnia, and the biggest funeral in the history of the world

The recipient of an American Academy fellowship, the Rome Prize, Anthony Doerr travels to Rome for one year with his wife and six month old twins prepared to complete his novel. He is pleasantly diverted from his writing by the wonders of the Eternal city, the beautiful Italian countryside and the joys and trials of parenting twin baby boys.
Doerr is an outstanding, award winning writer (New York Public Library, National Endowment for the Arts, American Library Association) whose intimate reflections will leave you planning a Roman holiday.

Following is a sample of Doerr's writing describing a rain storm shortly after the family arrives in Rome.

'Our first storm: Lightning lashes the domes of churches. Hail clatters on the terrace. In the early morning, the air seems shinier and purer than I've seen it. Dawn stretches across the gardens, pulling tiny shadows out of the blades of grass, draining through the needles of the umbrella pines. The old walls look washed, almost new: a thousand speckled tints of bronze, trailing lacework of ivy, glossy tangles of capers'

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr


Monday, January 30, 2012

Megan recommends: The Good Wife

Yes, you could say that I watch too much TV. One show I really like is The Good Wife. It's currently in its 3rd season on CBS, but you can watch seasons 1 and 2 on DVD. Borrow them from us! A twist on the usual legal saga stuff, with Julianna Margulies and Christine Baranski. And if you're wondering what happened to Josh Charles after Sports Night (especially after he starred in the cinematic classic, Don't Tell Mom, the Babysitter's Dead), catch him here as a morally ambiguous law partner.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sue Recommends The Drop by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch is back better than ever in Michael Connelly's latest release, The Drop. Lately Connelly has been known for his Mickey Haller (Bosch's half brother) books, mostly due to the release of the Lincoln Lawyer movie.

For diehard Connelly followers, such as me, Harry Bosch is the preferred character. Perhaps it is because he knows all of the tricks and has great insights necessary to solve crimes where the forensics don't spell out the killer. The Drop has so many twists and turns as Harry learns he cannot even trust his partner as he tries to find out whether the son of a former foe in the police department and L.A. council member committed suicide or was thrown to his death. What is suspicious is that this council member requested Harry--a little political intrigue afoot.

If you haven't read the Harry Bosch series, you are in for a treat. Do you have to read them in order? No, but they are more meaningful if you understand some of the relationships and cases that may be referred to in the current novel. Happy reading!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Mike Suggests some Bill Willingham

I'm an unabashed fan of graphic novels. Wait, let me stop trying to act like I'm not a nerd and call them by their rightful title: comic books. Those of you who have asked me for a recommendation of what comic you should read have probably been subjected to at least ten minutes of me gushing about how much I adore Bill Willingham and his long-running comic, Fables, which may be the greatest ongoing comic and second only to Neil Gaiman's Sandman series in my comic pantheon.

Bill's work is very similar to Neil's in that he's taking the stories that reside deep down in our cultural memory--fables, folk tales, etc.--and remixing, revamping, and recombobulating them into something completely new and fascinating. Like most authors, before tackling the entire cosmos of humanity's rich storytelling past and writing his magnum opus, he had to cut his teeth and what he had written (and, sometimes, drawn) has finally been collected for the fanboys and fangirls into the aptly named Bad Doings & Big Ideas. So for those of you out there who have shared my passion for all things Willingham, you can't say I didn't tell you. And for those of you who have never heard of him but enjoy the works of greats like Neil Gaiman, what are you waiting for?!?

Wise Man's Fear

The Wise Man's Fear
By Rothfuss, Patrick
2011-03 - Daw Books
9780756404734 Check Our Catalog

Kvothe searches for answers, attempting to uncover the truth about the mysterious Amyr, the Chandrian, and the death of his parents. Along the way, Kvothe is put on trial by the legendary Adem mercenaries, forced to reclaim the honor of his family, and travels into the Fae realm. …More

The sequel to the epic The Name of the Wind. Kvothe is forced to leave the university and seek his destiny. Readers who like character building and the works of George R. R. Martin should read.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Eve Arnold - Photographer

Eve Arnold, a grande dame of news photography, died on January 4 at the age of 99. Her celebrity photos included such luminaries as Joan Crawford, Malcom X, Anthony Quinn, Marlene Dietrich and Marilyn Monroe with whom she developed a unique rapport. Her interest was not limited to the rich and famous however. Her world travels took her to South African shantytowns, a Havana brothel, a Moscow psychiatric hospital, among others where she documented another side of life. She was the official photographer on over 40 movie sets. Magnum Photos hired Ms. Arnold as one of its first female photographers in 1951 and she became a member of its cooperative in 1957.

Born in Philadelphia, she was one of nine children of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine. Arnold died in Britain where she has lived since 1961.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Still more Swedish crime recommended by Rob

Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom

Booklist’s starred review for Three Seconds ends with this: “Crime fiction rarely gets as good as this.” (Booklist has been reviewing books for over 100 years, and their reviewers know a thing or two about crime fiction!) Booklist review and Swedish Crime Novel of the Year (2009) Award aside, Three Seconds is a darned good read. The protagonist is an informer deep inside the Polish mafia seeking to extend its grip of the drug trade in Sweden. Piet’s handler’s handlers high up in the government are quite used to playing fast and loose with rules and procedures (not to mention laws) when it comes to paid informants. When another informant is killed with Piet as an accomplice, the authors bring in the venerable Ewert Grens to solve the murder. The result is a high tension, edge-of-your-seat thriller which will make you want to go out and grab other books by the Roslund/Hellstrom writing team. (But you better hurry because I’m about to go grab one myself…)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sue Recommends Brotherband Chronicles Book 1: The Outcasts by John Flanagan

John Flanagan writes fantasy adventure fiction for young adults. You may have read a recommendation for his first best-selling series--Ranger's Apprentice--right here on this blog. Whether you are 10, 16, or 60, male or female, you will enjoy his likable characters and admire his ability to write a great story.

His new series, Brotherband Chronicles, begins with The Outcasts. This is a companion story to the Ranger's Apprentice and features a coming of age story of young men from medieval Skandia training to be warriors in groups called Brotherbands. As the name implies, one of the Brotherbands is made up of a group of boys who are considered outcasts in the community because of their actions or parentage and thus not picked by the other teams to be a part of their group.

Will Hal, Stig and the other boys in this group be able to compete with the other groups to make a name for themselves and prove that they are truly contributing member of the Skandian community who deserve respect? Stay tuned for more adventures from this rag-tag group of seafaring boys.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Megan recommends: State of Play

State of Play

No, not the American movie with Russell Crowe. Go watch the six hour British miniseries from 2003. It's got a suspenseful, intricate plot where politicians and journalists collide and it's really well-acted. The research assistant for a member of Parliament is killed in a London Underground accident. At the same time, a teenage pickpocket is shot dead. How are the two connected? That's where the journalists from the London newspaper The Herald come in.