Friday, July 30, 2010

Jonathan Recommends: Get Capone

Capone was one of the first international criminal celebrities. He exemplified Horatio Alger at its best, and worst. In Get Capone : the secret plot that captured America's most wanted gangster by Jonathan Eig we remove the myth and get to the reality that was and is Al "Scarface" Capone.

This thrilling part true crime part biographical account of Capone's criminal empire makes the perfect read for non-fiction lovers. It is superbly researched, accessible, and cited.

Eig doesn't just tell the story of Capone's rise and downfall; he immerses the reader in the events. If you read and enjoy this, then I suggest reading Al Capone : the biography of a self-made man by Fred D. Pasley, written during Capone's lifetime. This title is available through Interlibrary Loan, just ask at the Reference Desk.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tales of Artichokes and Hell's Kitchen

What do artichokes and Hell's Kitchen have in common? Nothing really, beyond the fact that they were the subjects of two separate graphic novels I devoured recently. Now that it's summer I've found plenty of time to read a couple of the GN's I've been anticipating, so this weekend I settled down on my porch with Megan Kelso's newest graphic novel Artichoke Tales, and the classic superhero origin story by Frank Miller and John Romita, Jr. , Daredevil: The Man Without Fear.

A graphic novel about civil war, inter-family strife, hewing to traditions and breaking from them, and love gained and love lost, Kelso's Artichoke Tales isn't the epic tale I expected (which was an assumption born from reading the back-cover summary which described it as a "family saga") but rather a succinct tale that's masterfully told. It's not a complaint when I say that--Kelso's at her best when telling a short tale, and this book feels like three closely-entwined short tales rather than a family saga. After all, it's only at the books half-point that we realize the mother of Brigitte, and near the end when introduced to another character as her father. Kelso's artwork is brilliant (as always), and the use of green lines is a nice touch, giving the art a lightness that it deserves to match the storytelling.

Diving into the world of Miller's Daredevil: The Man Without Fear came as a sucker-punch out of the blue--the dirty streets of Hell's Kitchen and Matt Murdock's life on the edge was a stark contrast to the subtle and lush world of Artichoke Tales. If only all the superheroes could have such a talent as Frank Miller re-writing their origin story, with a fantastic artist like John Romita, Jr. working alongside. This story is classic Miller, and you can easily see hints of his more gritty Sin City series simmering underneath the story of a hard-luck kid brought up blind in Hell's Kitchen. The only thread of the tale that could have used a little more fleshing out would be Kingpin; his empire of crime brings about the main point of conflict but the actual character seems a bit one-dimensional. Otherwise not much to complain about here: a strong origin story with a ton of noir.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sue Recommends The Lion by Nelson DeMille

Yes! Nelson DeMille's newest book in the John Corey series, The Lion, has been released! Those of us who yearn for him to release another book starring John as soon as we finish one are ecstatic to have a sequel to his encounters with the Libyan terrorist you love to hate--Asad Khalil. This time Khalil has the financial backing of Al-Qaeda in exchange for his participation in a terrorist act for them along the lines of another 9/11. You can count on nonstop action to keep you turning pages. For even more entertainment, try the audio recording of the book read by Scott Brick. He truly brings John Corey to life!

If you have not read The Lion's Game, you will want to read it first to understand the history Corey, a former NYPD police Homicide Detective and special agent to the Anti-Terrorist Task Force, and Khalil have. The rest of the series does not have to be read in order but the books do occasionally make references to events and people in earlier books. Start from the beginning and enjoy them all! SH

Plum Island (Book 1)
The Lion's Game (Book 2)
Night Fall (Book 3)
Wildfire (Book 4)

Stay up to date with DeMille's latest book releases with the Nelson DeMille Newsletter Sign-up .

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Universe is a Dangerous Place

Old Man's War
by Scalzi, John

When humanity reaches the stars, it discovers that it must defend its claim to new planets against alien races. Alien cultures, morals, philosophies, and motives are unknowable. Only one thing is clear, livable real estate in the universe is scarce, and numerous alien races will have to fight for it. In order to protect the new colonies the Colonial Defense Forces recruit seniors on their 75th birthdays. Giving the seniors youth through an advanced life extension process provides the CDF with soldiers which have a lifetime of experience and wisdom.

Modeled on Starship Troopers, Old Man's War is about the meaning and importance of identity. What makes one human, the significance of mortality, and the ethics of life extension are all major themes.


Monday, July 19, 2010

No Debate About It--The Great Debater is Great, Says Rob

If my son weren't on the debate team, I probably never would have seen this movie. But what a great film! Set in the 1930s, the story (based on a true story) is about the debate team of Wiley College, a small Black college in Texas. Denzel Washington delivers an impeccable performance as the professor 100% committed to helping his team win. Look for some rough scenes of racial oppression, and dome underdog-coming-from-behind scenes held together by uniformly solid acting. Denzel Washington directs and Oprah Winfrey produces.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Megan suggests: A Gentleman's Guide to Graceful Living

A Gentleman's Guide to Graceful Living by Michael Dahlie

The author of this book emailed the Wellesley Free Library to ask us to buy his novel. Apparently, his parents had lived in Wellesley at one time and he wrote some of his book in our library. I believe he complimented our comfortable chairs :-). Of course, we had to buy the book after hearing that! Well, I read A Gentleman's Guide and it's very good and dryly humorous. Can a guy who seems to be somewhat of a klutz and a failure find success and inspiration? How does someone find identity and self-worth? An enjoyable and insightful read.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

You will love 'A Homemade Life : Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table'

Now that summer has definitely arrived in all its glory and you are beginning to harvest the fruits of your vegetable garden or picking up your CSA with great anticipation, the time is ripe to read Molly Wizenberg's book. The founder of the enormously popular blog, Orangette, Wizenberg's memoir/cookbook will make you laugh and cry. Her childhood memories are fondly intertwined with entertaining, food and cooking stories. From pistachio cake with honeyed apricots to Scottish scones with lemon and ginger, you can sample new recipes to enjoy all season long.