Friday, December 30, 2011

Mike Suggests Marzi

Marzi: A Memoir by Marzena Sowa, illustrated by Sylvain Savoia

The realm of graphic novels has long been a haven for memoirs, starting with Spiegelman's Maus and continuing into the present with greats such as Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis and David B.'s Epileptic. Marzena Sowa adds to the list with her memoir about growing up behind the Iron Curtain in Poland. It's a unique view that contrasts the naivete and curiosity of childhood with the harshness of Communism. A must-read, especially if you've enjoyed Guy Deslisle's travelogues from his time spent in totalitarian countries (Pyongyang, Travels in Burma).

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Great Captains of Antiquity

Gabriel expands upon the groundbreaking work of B. H. Lidell-Hart's Great Captains by offering detailed portraits of six great captains of the ancient world who met the challenges of their age and shaped the future of their societies, and civilization itself, through their actions. While all were great military men, with the exception of Caesar Augustus, they were also great political leaders who, in this capacity more often than through their feats of arms, shaped their societies. All were educated men, and all possessed the quality of imaginative reasoning.

Gabriel analyzes the lives of Thutmose III of Egypt, Sargon II of Assyria, Philip II of Macedon, Hannibal of Carthage, Scipio Africanus of Republican Rome, and Caesar Augustus of Imperial Rome for the lessons contemporary leaders, particularly military leaders, can learn.

This is a short and interesting survey of the careers of some of the great captains of the ancient world. B. H. Lidell-Hart’s Great Captains Unveiled is an expansion of an earlier work Great Captains by Theodore A. Dodge. Dodge’s book examines the military leadership of Alexander, Caesar, Gustavus Adolphus, and Frederick. Lidell-Hart’s book adds Genghis Khan, Sabutai, Saxe, Wallenstein and James Wolfe. Gabriel’s is the more modern analysis in the form of short biographical sketches.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More Mayhem in Stockholm: Read Box 21

Who’da thunk it? Would you have guessed that normal everyday Americans would be throwing around names like Dag, Dragan, Jerker, Piet,and Lisbeth. “Yes, I remember when Sven saw Jochum in Kronoberg (or was it Klaipeda?)” Swedish crime fiction is hot. And not just Stieg Larsson and his “Girl Who…” series. There’s Hakan Nesser, Camilla Lackberg, Kjell Ericksson, the venerable Henning Mankell and more every second week. (Just check the Minuteman catalog for the subject “Sweden—Fiction” or keywords “Sweden and mystery.”) Box 21 was written by a Swedish writing duo, one of whom is a journalist, the other an ex-criminal. Roslund and Hellstrom set a gritty noir scene, peopled by sex traffickers, dope addicts, corrupt cops, mob enforcers and a few hardworking detectives, who themselves have demons to fight. Ewert Grens is the senior investigator, a brilliant detective but haunted by the assault decades earlier which left his partner Anni brain-damaged and virtually unresponsive in a nursing home. Grens (a crusty and cranky old fellow) and his team have to deal with multiple crimes involving an abused prostitute, her plans for revenge and the murder of a drug addict by the very same man responsible for Anni’s condition. Box 21 kept me up late reading, and I think it will do the same to you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Megan recommends: Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey's second season is going to be shown on PBS in January. Missed the first season and need to catch up? Then it's time to borrow Downton Abbey from the library. Kind of an Upstairs Downstairs mini-series, with lots of romance, subterfuge, scandals, and inheritance complications. The story begins with the sinking of the Titanic and ends with the beginning of World War I. Maggie Smith's character has the best lines -- ever. And if you've ever wondered what happened to Elizabeth McGovern after Ordinary People, you'll be happy to see her here as the family matriarch.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sue Recommends V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton

If you haven't tired of the alphabet mystery series (she is up to V now) by Sue Grafton, V is for Vengeance is not to miss. If you haven't read A to U, you will still enjoy this latest installment.

As Kinsey Milhone, our fearless PI, is innocently buying underwear, she witnesses a shoplifting crime. Little did she realize that being a good citizen and reporting the crime would result in the thief's death and pull her into the world of organized crime. Kinsey's vexing attitude and smart alec tongue keep the tension alive.

Lots of action and twists along the way for those who are looking for a good read on a cold winter's evening.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Peggy Recommends: The Children's Hour (DVD)

The Children’s Hour (DVD)

I gave this classic film a second look recently and was glad I did. Based on a 1934 play by Lillian Hellman and brought to film by the great William Wyler, this movie was banned in Boston in 1961. Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine shine as two long-time friends who run a boarding school for girls. Their quiet world collapses when a spoiled bully in the school spreads the gossip that Hepburn and MacLaine are lovers. Supported by James Garner and Fay Bainter, who received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, this film shines with something we gotten used to living without—actual acting. No gizmos, special effects or flashbacks. The whole story is told in the script and in the actresses and actors faces. Depending on your age, you’ll remember the fear, disgust, and venom depicted here that was directed toward homosexuals or you’ll be profoundly grateful that you don’t, and that we’ve traveled such a long way since. PM

Peggy Recommends: Boston Irish by Edward Delaney

A cursory browse of the Boston Globe review Boston Irish by Edward Delaney intrigued me enough to put it on my “remember-to-read” list. Southie, tough Irish characters, corruption, feuds, the Catholic Church, all sounded to me like an interesting, but perhaps predictable mix. I was more than surprised to be deeply drawn into this complex novel and its characters that inhabit the late 1990s world of South Boston and the widening scandal of sexual abuse in the Boston Archdiocese. The towns of Wellesley, Needham, Newton, Brookline and Milton get nods as do Boston College, Cardinal Law, and the Chancery. I felt I entered into the lives, and more importantly into the minds, of this interlocking set of characters, and particularly into the minds of the most unappealing ones. There are few books that have done that for me. Don’t miss this dark but stunning novel. PM

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mike's going to let Lev do the talking

If you've stopped by the reference desk and asked me for a good fantasy book to read, or told me that you've enjoyed Harry Potter but were looking for something more adult, or even said that you don't like fantasy for one reason or another, then chances are I sent you home with Lev Grossman's The Magicians. And if you haven't yet read it yet, then you have to do so--especially since it's one of the rare series where the sequel is even better than the first title.

Well, this post isn't about the book so much as the author, who just happens to also be the book critic at Time Magazine. Taking advantage of the lack of books published before Christmas he looks forward to books to be published in the new year, naming seven that he's looking forward to in 2012; and I have to admit I'm a very bad librarian because I only recognized one name on the list (the National Book Award finalist and difficult-to-pronounce Paolo Bacigalupi). Regardless of my ignorance, I've made an early New Year's resolution and am planning to pick up two or three on this list and, for those of you who will be looking to relax after the hectic times and overbearing family encountered during the holiday season, I'd suggest you put a couple of these titles on hold . . .

Memories of Ice

Memorie of Ice
By Erikson, Steven
2006-08 - Forge
9780765348807 Check Our Catalog

A terrifying new empire: the Pannion Domin has appeared on the continent of Genabackis. Like a tide of corrupted blood, it seethes across the land, devouring all in its path. For it would seem something altogether darker and more malign threatens this world. Rumors abound that the Crippled God is now unchained and intent on a terrible revenge.

This is the third book in Erikson's 10 volume Malazan book of the Fallen series. Each volume is mostly self-contained although many plot lines are going on at once. Epic fantasy full of gods, elder races, magic, and huge battles. Erikson's work is often compared to J. R. R. Matins, each has plots within plots.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Classics for a New Age

Three modern-classic cookbooks, two in newly revised forms and one a new gathering of two decades of culinary expertise, will soon be available for your browsing pleasure here at the library. All three are meant to be useful and cook-friendly.

The Silver Spoon, Second Edition Phaidon, 1,500 pages.

The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook America's Test Kitchen, 890 pages.

The Professional Chef, Ninth Edition Wiley, 1,212 pages.


Let Freedom Sing!

Music of the Civil Rights Movement
This is a far-reaching collection of songs by, for or about participants in the civil rights movement. You'll find blues, folk, jazz, gospel, rock, funk, pop, r&b, soul, hip-hop and all the blends and fusions possible among the musical styles. The songs date from the forties all the way to 2008. Let Freedom Sing provides a great reminder about how integral music was to the movement: in the streets, churches, jails, segregated lunch counters as well as the concert halls. The artists read like a who's who of Black (and some White) musicians: Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, John Lee Hooker, James Brown, B.B. King, Bob Marley, Neville Brothers, Mahalia Jackson, Bob Dylan, Nat King Cole, Big Bill Broonzy, Josh White, Phil Ochs, Harry Belafonte, Otis Redding, the Weavers and a few dozen more. The who's who doesn't include everyone (notable exceptions include Paul Robeson, Sam Cooke, Leadbelly and Miriam Makeba), but then it is only 3 CDs. If you've never heard Billie Holiday singing Strange Fruit or Nina Simone singing Mississippi Goddam, you have to check out this set.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sue Recommends Concussion Crisis: Anatomy of a Silent Epidemic by Linda Carroll

Concussion Crisis: Anatomy of a Silent Epidemic is an important book for parents who have student athletes. Traumatic Head Injuries are becoming more commonplace in high school and college athletics and not just for football or basketball players.

I personally have seen the consequences of young athletes being victims of head injuries playing volleyball and lacrosse. The effects are not always apparent and the athlete finishes the game only to have symptoms appear later, the next day, or never. Symptoms may last weeks, months or longer preventing students from completing their coursework and graduating on time. In the meantime, students and parents hold their breath that there will be no permanent brain damage.

Concussion Crisis
presents high school, college and pro athletes' stories. Linda Carroll, a health journalist, also provides the critical information regarding the anatomy and physiology of concussions and concerns of doctors and researchers.

The brain fascinates us all and the health of the brain should never be taken for granted.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mike detects that you'll enjoy Sleuth

Sleuth, with Michael Caine and Lawrence Olivier

I've been dipping my toes into the mystery genre these past few months and my most recent foray was one that I've particularly enjoyed. In Sleuth (originally a Tony Award-winning play by Anthony Shaffer), Michael Caine plays a dapper young man who has wooed the wife of a millionaire detective fiction author, played by Lawrence Olivier. Invited to the author's mansion, the young Casanova is drawn into a game of wits with a man who has made his life out of weaving intricate traps and games. The talents of these two fine actors are on display as the story takes us through a series of intrigues and plays for the upper hand; it's sure to be a crowdpleaser whether you're a mystery fan or just enjoy watching a couple of great actors.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Last of the Amazons

Last of the Amazons
By Pressfield, Steven
2002-01 - Wheeler Publishing
9780754018391 Check Our Catalog

The author of the international bestsellers "Gates of Fire and "Tides of War delivers his most gripping and imaginative novel of the ancient world-a stunning epic of love and war that breathes life into the grand myth of the ferocious female warrior culture of the Amazons.
Steven Pressfield has gained a passionate worldwide following for his magnificent novels of ancient Greece, "Gates of Fire and "Tides of War. In "Last of the Amazons, Pressfield has surpassed himself, re-creating a vanished world in a brilliant novel that will delight his loyal readers and bring legions more to his singular and powerful restoration of the past.
In the time before Homer, the legendary Theseus, King of Athens (an actual historical figure), set sail on a journey that brought him into the land of "tal Kyrte, the "free people," a nation of proud female warriors whom the Greeks called "Amazons." The Amazons, bound to each other as lovers as well as fighters, distrusted the Greeks, with their boastful talk of "civilization." So when the great war queen Antiope fell in love with Theseus and fled with the Greeks, the mighty Amazon nation rose up in rage.

"From the Hardcover edition. …More

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Megan suggests: Union Atlantic

Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett

This book, written before the crash of 2008, centers around a bank in Boston and its questionable investments. Young banker Doug Fanning has risen from an impoverished upbringing and is struggling to keep his bank Union Atlantic afloat. Doug has also built himself a McMansion in a Weston/Wellesley-like town on was once conservation land and is embroiled in a conflict with his neighbor, retired schoolteacher Charlotte Graves. Charlotte's brother, Henry, happens to be the president of the New York Federal Reserve, which is keeping a watchful eye on Union Atlantic. Interesting stuff... food for thought and a really well-written book by Wellesley High School grad Haslett.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sue Recommends The Litigators by John Grisham

Grisham returns to the world of tort cases (King of Torts, 2003) and street lawyers (The Street Lawyer, 1998) with his new legal thriller entitled The Litigators. He follows David Zinc, a Harvard Law School graduate, from the elite world of corporate law to the life of a lowly street lawyer. David thought anything had to be better than his job with a large high power law firm until he offers his services to the partners of Finley & Figg, who are basically ambulance chasers.

Figg decides that big money can be found by joining the assault on the much hated and maligned drug industry in a tort case regarding a drug name Krayoxx, a popular cholesterol-reducing drug. That's when David becomes a quick study on being a trial lawyer (when his new bosses begin to drop out of the picture) and decides what he wants to be when he grows up. The ending is a bit unbelievable but this is fiction, right?

The audiobook is read by Dennis Boutsikaris and his narration does not add much to the story. I enjoyed the story in spite of him.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rob Recommends You Get What You Pay For

Meet Tony Cassella, the hard-boiled private eye with a none-too-typical resume. He dropped out of Yale Law School, testified against fellow corrections officers, has mob connections and knows who to talk to in the New York political machine. He has troubles with his girlfriend and his mom’s boyfriend, a priest, wants in on Tony’s biggest case. And that case involves proving that Ronald Reagan’s newly appointed attorney-general is corrupt. Corruption runs through this noir novel as if it were one of the main characters. As for Tony, you’ll have to read the book to see if can resist the temptations dangled in front of him and remain true to his principles.

And again, Ruth Reichl

The esteemed food writer and longtime Gourmet magazine editor sums up the prevailing 'eat local' message in a beautiful quote published last Saturday in the Wall Street Journal.

The meal that changed my life was in Crete, when I was about 20, on my honeymoon with my then-husband. We walked up this mountain and at the top there was a hut and an old woman. She sat us on chairs outside and brought us olive oil that she had pressed, a plate of onions she had grown, some olives and some wine that her neighbor had made. Then she went down the hill to go fishing. She came back up and built a fire, and sprinkled the fish she'd caught with herbs from the hillside. We sat there eating this grilled fish and bread and the olive oil, ending with yogurt from her own goats. I had never had food that simple or so much of its place. This was 1970, when you couldn't get good olive oil in America. I thought, This is how I want to eat for the rest of my life.

Ms Reichl's books may be found in our cookbook section on the second floor.

Please share your own food story with us. We look forward to hearing from you!