Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rob recommends Citizen Vince by Jess Walter

You know how Elmore Leonard takes a petty criminal—say a car thief or armed robber—and portrays him as a full human being? With feelings, doubts, honorable traits, a sense of humor, good friends, scruples sometimes? That’s Citizen Vince. Jess Walter gives us a criminal we can root for in Vince Camden, a little cog in the Mob who maneuvers his way into the Witness Protection Program and winds up making donuts in Spokane Washington.

Despite his ongoing criminal enterprise and despite the past, in the form of a hit man, coming back to bite him, Vince really does yearn for a “normal” life. The story is set in the final days of the Carter—Reagan presidential race in 1980 and Vince becomes obsessed with the idea of his casting his vote as the sine qua non of true citizenship. Jess Walter surrounds his hero with a cast of likable and quirky characters, all occupying the netherworld that’s the stuff of crime novels. Definitely worth a read for those who appreciate a crime novel outside the crime novel mold.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Jim Dale narrates the Night Circus

Jim Dale, who narrates The Night Circus, is best known for his outstanding narration of the Harry Potter series, which made him a Guinness World Record holder for creating 146 voices. Dale has won a record 10 "Audie Awards", the 'Oscars' of the audiobook world, including 4 "Narrator of the Year Awards" and 13 "Earphones Awards". With such stellar credentials, you may enjoy listening to his reading of Erin Morgenstern's debut novel, a critically acclaimed magical circus tale of imagination, greed and intrigue set in early 20th century America and Europe.
If you enjoy audiobooks, who are your favorite narrators? We'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sue Recommends The Submission by Amy Waldman

Picture the United States public anxiously awaiting the announcement of the winner of a contest to design the memorial to those who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

What would be the reaction when it is announced that the winner of a beautiful garden design is an American-born Muslim architect, the son of immigrants from India? Add to this scenario that one of the members of the jury selecting the design is the widow of one of those who died that tragic day.

Amy Walden did just that in The Submission, her first published novel. The release of this title so soon after the dedication of the actual memorial makes it so much more intense and opens your eyes to the many angry and opportunistic people who use displays of tribute to benefit their own selfish political and social causes.

Don't miss this extraordinary book!


Megan recommends: Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It

Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy

The book group at the library read this collection of short stories last month. Usually they're a tough crowd and don't like anything. Much to my surprise everybody liked these stories! Both Ways was included in the New York Times Ten Best Books of 2009. Contradictions abound in these stories as characters try to have it "both ways." The vulnerabilities and vacillations of the people in these stories make them interesting


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Project Orion

Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship

by George B. Dyson

It was the late 1950s. The Cold War was raging. Sputnik had made its voyage and the space race was on. In America, it was the age of tail fins and "duck and cover," but it was also a time of big ideas and dreams. On his way to school one day, George Dyson learned of a truly fantastical idea: massive space vehicles that would be powered by explosions of multiple hydrogen bombs. Among the brilliant minds behind this project was George's father, the eminent physicist Freeman Dyson.

Project Orion brought together a cadre of brilliant physicists, the first such assemblage since the Manhattan Project of fifteen years earlier. In an idyllic seaside community in southern California-the very picture of 1950s suburban prosperity-a handful of scientists, tackled a massive project that required the ingenuity of an engineer and the vision of a great theoretician.

Their ambitious work, although ultimately futile, took place against the political and cultural backdrop of the Cold War, when nuclear technology spelled both promise and terror. Dyson's prodigious historical and scientific research, combined with his personal reminiscences and connections, make for a lively, richly detailed narrative.

The story of the first attempt to use nuclear power for manned star flight.

NASA has just released a new video of its next deep space rocket, to see it click Here.


Neutral Milk Hotel, Gavin Bryars, and Tinariwen

So what does fuzz folk, modern orchestral music, and African blues/rock played by former rebels have in common? Well, this past Saturday I had the pleasure of encountering all three at one concert. Those of you who may be fans of the band may already know that Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel was in Boston this weekend, playing his first shows in New England since 1998. For those of you who don't know Jeff Mangum, he's a bit of a J. D. Salinger figure among musicians, having made his masterpiece back in 1998 with the release In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, shortly after permanently disbanding the band and only sporadically touring on his own thereafter. The album has since become a seminal work among musicians, songwriters and fans due to Jeff Mangum's layered lyrics involving siamese twins, Anne Frank, angels and the cycle of death & rebirth, supported by an intermingling of multiple organs, musical saw, and hard-driving guitar.

As if that wasn't odd enough for you, opening for Jeff Mangum was ACME, a string quartet from NYC which, according to their website, "is dedicated to the outstanding performance of masterworks from the 20th and 21st centuries." The selection that really raised the hair on my arm was a work of Gavin Bryars, a British composer whose work "Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet" features an unaccompanied elderly man singing an off-beat religious song. As the performers told the story, Gavin Bryars had filmed this man as a part of a documentary and was so taken by the song that he looped it on a recorder and was listening to it in his office, a shared space with other artists. Not thinking about the music playing on loop, he took off to get a cup of coffee and returned to find that everyone in the office was transfixed by this music, some even to the point of weeping. Realizing the potential and strength of the old man's song, he wrote a composition for it with a slow buildup of string instruments that play on variations while his warbling voice extols a simple statement of faith.

So, on to the final piece--what do African rock rebels have to do with all this? During the concert Jeff Mangum was being a pretty amiable guy and asked if anyone had any questions. When asked what was the last concert he had been to and he answered "Tinariwen." Being the geeky librarian I am, I did a search of our catalog while leaving and brought up several albums which have been stuck on repeat on my iPod this last week. These former Touareg rebels have traded in their guns for guitars and have been produced several albums marrying American Blues music to African sensibilities, bringing the blues back home as it were.

So, I hope that my joy in music will be your gain and that you'll give at least one of these great musicians a try because I don't know if I'll ever come up with a more eclectic list than this!Link

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cook Food : a manifesto for easy, healthy, local eating

The mundane title and cover art of Lisa Jervis' slim treatise belies the contents of her manual for being at home in the kitchen. The author guides the reader on a path to cook and eat animal-free recipes without a guilty conscience and without spending lots of money. A cook with a social conscience, Ms Jervis strives to inspire both the new and experienced cook. Check out Cook Food for a fun guide to healthy, local and responsible eating.

Other titles in our cookbook collection include:

The conscious kitchen : the new way to buy and cook food - to protect the Earth, improve your health and eat deliciously by Alexandra Zissu.

Super natural every day : well-loved recipes from my natural foods kitchen by Heidi Swanson.

Super natural cooking : five ways to incorporate whole and natural foods into your cooking by Heidi Swanson.

The 150 healthiest 15-minute recipes on earth : the surprising, unbiased truth about how to make the most deliciously nutritious meals at home - in just minutes a day by Jonny Bowden and Jeannette Lee Bessinger.

Wildly Affordable Organic : eat fabulous food, get healthy, and save the planet - all on $5 a day or less by Linda Watson.

What are your favorite titles? We look forward to hearing from you!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rob Recommends The Zero, by Jess Walter

Meet Brian Remy. Brian was a cop, a first responder at 9/11. For all the world, he seemed to have come away from Ground Zero intact. But he’s not quite alright. First, there are the flashes and floaters in his eyes. And then there’s the apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. More problematic though are his memory lapses. At random times at random intervals, he loses his memory—not all of it, but enough so that he rarely knows what he’s supposed to be doing at the moment. Remy finds himself reassigned to a special unit charged with reconstructing the universe of paper destroyed in the Towers’ collapse. His role is to help track down a possible terrorist whose name appeared on a scrap of paper salvaged from the explosion. The reader is ushered into a Kafkaesque world in which the bureaucracy—peopled by superiors, subordinates and fellow cops who mistake his memory lapses for genius or humor—chugs along in a disconnected post 9/11 reality of its own. The author manages to inject just enough black humor, social satire and hilarious dialog which, when added to the surreal setting, makes for an absorbing, edgy take on September the Eleventh.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sue Recommends Cold Vengeance by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

The adventure that began in Fever Dream with FBI agent Aloysius Pendergast and his hunt to discover what really happened to his wife Helen 12 years earlier in Africa, continues with Cold Vengeance, the 11th book in the Pendergast series.

There are many twists and turns as the conspiracy is slowly revealed through the surprising information revealed by his brother-in-law, Judson Esterhazy, as he tries to kill Pendergast in Scotland and the special agent's relentless, and of course, unconventional investigation.

It would be best to read
Fever Dream first to understand what has already occurred in Pendergast's attempt to get to the truth. However, Cold Vengeance does not finish the story but keeps the reader waiting for the next book in the series.

For those of you who hate for a story to end, this trilogy would be a great read.
Many of you may be surprised to know that Douglas Preston grew up in Wellesley. SH