Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rob Recommends "We Are Wisconsin"

One year ago the state of Wisconsin was in an uproar. Governor Scott Walker and the Republican state legislature proposed a far-reaching law restricting the rights of government workers to bargain collectively. The reaction was immediate and unprecedented. The Democratic members of the Senate walked out, staying in Illinois for three weeks to block the vote, and tens of thousands of people converged on the capital, some camping out in the Capitol building for weeks. The protest in many ways paved the way for Occupy Wall Street later in the year. The crowds were non-violent, diverse, exuberant, cooperative, creative, angry and persistent. Though the walls of the Capitol were covered with posters, the occupants used non-marring tape to protect the walls. Cleanup brigades made the janitors' work easy. People around the country called in orders to Ian's Pizza to feed the multitudes. Police (who were exempted from the law) maintained easy dialog with the protestors and joined the crowd after their shifts. We Are Wisconsin is one of several books chronicling those heady moments. The book collects short columns, blog posts and even Twitter tweets to give readers the flavor of the movement and some brief analysis. Unfortunately there are no pictures.
For those not following the events, here's what happened: The legislation ultimately passed but in the recall elections which ensued two Republicans were defeated. Over one million signatures were gathered to recall the governor and a recall election is likely this spring. Reading the book will give you some idea of what is was like to participate in this historic moment.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

From books to Oscar-nominated movies

This year's Oscars ceremony on February 26 has several book adaptations competing for Best Picture category. Included are :

Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Kaui Hart Hemmings' The Descendents

Michael Lewis' Moneyball

Kathryn Stockett's The Help

Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Michael Morpurgo's War Horse


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Megan recommends: Pulphead

Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan

I really liked this collection of essays from someone I think is a soon-to-be-famous writer. I used to read the New Yorker, and while I've been neglectful recently, I still enjoy non-fiction essay writing. John Jeremiah Sullivan's essays made me realize how much I enjoy that style. His topics range from his brother accidentally electrocuting himself to his house in Wilmington, NC being used for the set of the TV show One Tree Hill. Funny and also insightful stuff.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sue Recommends Taken by Robert Crais

Did you enjoy the tv series Miami Vice, Hill Street Blues, and Cagney & Lacey? Robert Crais was the writer behind some of the episodes of these shoes, winning an Emmy nomination for Hill Street Blues.

His characters and stories continue to delight readers today although he has focused on creating characters who have extraordinary talent and training in special operation forces. Elvis Cole and Joe Pike have made their appearances in his earlier books. Taken introduces a third Delta Force alum and government mercenary named Jon Stone as Pike solicits his aid in saving Elvis Cole from the hands of Human Traffickers who steal illegals entering the country through Mexico from the various international cartels--Mexican, Asian, Russian, etc.

The suspense is high and the story is fast. Pay attention because thoughts and events are told through alternating scenarios expressed by the characters.

I loved the audio because the reader, Luke Daniels, portrays the characters' personalities so well. Enjoy!


Mike gets "Justified"

For the past few years, television has been the place to go to for a decent story as Hollywood has become addicted to blockbuster hits devoid of an intelligent plot. You may have enjoyed the exquisitely paced Mad Men, period pieces like Downton Abbey, or the social misfit humor of Curb Your Enthusiasm, but if you're still jonesing for a bit of action then you should come to the library and check out the first season of Justified. Based on a short story by the expert author/screen writer Elmore Leonard, Justified follows deputy U.S. Marshall Raylan Givens after he's relegated to an office in the piney woods of Kentucky which just happen to be the area he was born in and spent his life trying to stay away from. His particular brand of justice is what keeps me so interested in the story; with a style that consists of equal mixes Western gunslinger, chivalrous knight, and unconventional law man, it's always what gets Raylan into trouble but is also his only way out of it. I promise you, you'll never think of a hillbilly the same way after watching this show. And for those of you who are already enjoying what may be considered Elmore Leonard's greatest work yet, you should check out Raylan, his new (and first) novel featuring the show's main character.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fingerprints of the Gods

Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Earth's Lost Civilizaton

By Hancock, Graham

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Could the story of mankind be older than we have previously believed? Hancock takes readers along on a quest for the proof of the existence of an as yet unidentified civilizarion of remote antiquity. Evidence has been misidentified or misinterpreted, and a picture of this great Ice Age civilization has eluded archaeologists according to Hancock.

Authors like Erich Von Daniken and Zechara Sitchin try to use their interpretation of the ancient stone ruins of Egypt, Mexico, the Andes and Sumeria to suggest that earth was visited by extraterrestrials. Hancock uses the same type of methodology to suggest that an advanced civilization existed in the Antarctic. He argues that a shift in the earth's crust caused the continents to move resulting in the destruction of his hypothesized civilization. A fun read for those interested in archeology and lost civilizations.