Tuesday, June 29, 2010

World Without End

World Without End
by Follett, Ken

In 1989 Follett published what was to become one of his most popular novels, The Pillars of the Earth, a historical epic about the construction of an English cathedral, set in the twelfth century. Now, 18 years later and with several intervening best-sellers to his credit, Follett presents his eager fans with a sequel to Pillars. According to publicity material, he spent three years writing it, and it shows, because this an amazingly well-researched, intricately plotted, richly detailed novel that, while long in pages, never sprawls or flags. It is set in the same English cathedral town as Pillars, some two centuries later, and has as its primary characters the descendants of the major characters that appeared in the previous book. Follett's technique is to follow the lives of four individuals who have varying goals in life and, in the process, build a comprehensive tapestry of medieval English life an especially important background thread being the horrible natural disaster of that era, the black plague. - Booklist

A book which you will not be able to put down despite it's length. Follett's characters use conventional English language which does not take away from the feeling you are in the middle ages. Although a historical novel the focus is on common people so knowing history does not spoil the story.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Peggy Recommends: Becoming Teddy Roosevelt:How a Maine Guide Inspired America's 26th President

I've been a huge admirer of Theodore Roosevelt since reading Edmund Morris's Pulitzer prize-winning biography The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. Andrew Vietze's new book Becoming Teddy Roosevelt is a gift to all TR fans as well as lovers of the state of Maine. In 1878, Teddy Roosevelt met William Sewall in Island Falls, Maine. Roosevelt's father had recently died and the 19 year-old TR was recovering from the death of the "best man I ever knew." William Sewall was a rugged, 33 year-old Mainer who would show TR the majestic beauty of Aroostook County, Maine's largest and most northern county. Sewall's outdoor tutelage helped turn TR from a thin, asthmatic undergraduate to a robust man of the woods and the ranch. The mutual affection, respect, and devotion between the two grew over the years and continued until Roosevelt's death in 1919. Roosevelt's passionate defense of the America's natural heritage produced 150 national forests, 5 national parks, 4 national games preserves, 18 national monuments (including the Grand Canyon). The unique and long-lasting relationship with William Sewall and the Maine woods in no small part contributed to TR's environmental passion. PM

Friday, June 25, 2010

Emily Recommends The Disreputable History of Frankie- Landau Banks

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Although this book is a youth title, it will appeal to a variety of readers. Frankie Landau-Banks is attending Alabaster Prep, a prestigious school in Massachusetts. As she enters her freshman year of high school, Frankie has blossomed into a beautiful woman and has received the attention of the most popular guy at school, Matthew Livingston. Frankie has had feelings for Matthew for years, and is immediately swept up in the romance. Frankie realizes pretty quickly that Matthew's life is not all it seems and she follows him to a meeting of the Basset Hounds, a secret society on campus. The society is all male and Frankie does not think it should be any longer. She pretends to be a member of the society and creates elaborate pranks that the boys willingly pursue. Frankie desperately wants to be a part of the Basset Hounds, but will the boys let her join?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

See Gran Torino, intones Rob

Tough guy with a heart of gold. You could sum up Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino with a cliché, but don’t. First of all, Clint is good. He does a great job as a foul-mouthed, racist, mean, nasty, ill-mannered, violent old codger with the supreme misfortune of living in a changing neighborhood. So you’ve got the codger, the Hmong neighbors and gangs roaming the streets. All you need is a little Clint Eastwood action to ignite the combustible materials. The materials do ignite and we do see some Dirty Harry machismo, but wait there’s more! The heart of the story is the evolving relationship between Eastwood and the Hmong sister and brother next door. Yes, it’s Hollywood, but it is Clint Eastwood Hollywood and the meanness and nastiness is so over-the –top, that you won’t mind laughing as you wince.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Debra enjoyed : Riding The Bus with my Sister

Riding the Bus with My Sister by Rachel Simon is a wise and honest biography of one year in the lives of Rachel and her sister, Beth, who has mental retardation. Beth rides the buses in her Pennsylvania city with her community of friends, the drivers and fellow passengers. When Rachel, a college teacher. decides to accompany her sister for one year, she learns lessons about what really matters in life : living in the moment and paying attention to people, learning to forgive, slowing down and giving and receiving love.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Megan recommends: The Village of Waiting

The Village of Waiting by George Packer

Journalist and author George Packer -- brother of Ann Packer -- has become somewhat well-known through his writings in the New Yorker and other periodicals. He has written extensively about the Iraq war, but his published work covers a wide variety of topics. One of my favorites is the first book he published, The Village of Waiting, which is a memoir of his time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo in 1982-83. Packer writes about the problems facing contemporary African society, but he also writes frankly about himself and how his time in Africa affected his worldview.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Emily Recommends Three Girls and Their Brother

Three Girls and Their Brother- Theresa Rebeck

A fun, summer read Three Girls and Their Brother follows the lives of the Heller children: Amelia, Polly, Daria, and Philip. Each of the four main characters has one section told through their point of view. Daria and Polly, the eldest sisters have always wanted to model, act, and become celebrities. When their 14-year-old sister Amelia, starts to get all the attention, Daria and Polly become jealous of their sister's instant fame. Philip is neglected by not only his sisters, but also his parents and is sent away when he is seen as someone who is in the way of Amelia's success. Amelia's talent, strength, and maturity make those around her forget how young she is, and she is consistently in situations that no 14-year-old should be in. Her parents have pulled her out of school and she has become the love interest of a much older actor. In a realistic tale of young fame, follow the Hellers through their world of celebrity and disaster.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mike Suggests: WAR by Sebastian Junger

WAR by Sebastian Junger

I've read a few books on first-hand war perspectives, as well as historical perspectives of war, but never have had a book relate the effects of war and battle on the minds & bodies of its participants with such honesty, compassion, and authority. I was speechless after finishing the book, because Junger did such a fantastic job of laying out the truth that once you've been a long-time participant in battle, nothing in life is ever quite the same. The extremes of emotion and physical exertion that the front-line fighters in the mountains of Afghanistan subject themselves make it difficult, if not impossible, to imagine yourself in their place--especially when reading about it from the comfort of your home.

The digital book has caused garnered quite a bit of notice as well, because it's representative of what may be the next big thing in ebooks--imagine reading the narrative of a battle and then being able to see video of a .50 caliber gunner laying down fire from the same battle. Definitely the experience I would like to have, of multimedia integration within the text.

Expect the accompanying documentary, Restrepo, to be just as good as Junger's "WAR".

History That Might Have Been

What If? 2: Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been by Cowley, Robert (Editor)

There is no surer way to make history come alive than to contemplate those moments when the world's future-the government and wealth of nations, the faith and culture of generations-hung in the balance.

In this volume, many of our brightest historians speculate about some of history's intriguing crossroads and the ways in which our lives may have been changed for the better-or the worse.The twenty-seven original essays range across the full span of history.

Each historian examines a pivotal event, then considers the ramifications had the event come out differently. Contributor's include Victor Davis Hanson, Josiah Ober, Geoffrey Parker, Tom Wicker,and Caleb Carr. Some of my favorites are "Repulse at Hastings, October 14, 1066" by Cecelia Holland, "The Chinese Discovery of the New World, 15th Century" by Theodore F. Cook Jr. and "The Election of Theodore Roosevelt 1912" by John Lukacs.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Emily Recommends Marcelo in the Real World

Marcelo in the Real World- Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo is a high functioning autistic boy who is perfectly happy in his world. He attends Paterson, a school where he is able to interact with other students like him and he is also able to work in the stables with the haflinger ponies. The summer before Marcelo will be a senior in high school, his father, Arturo, tells him that he must enter "the real world." Arturo makes a deal with Marcelo. If Marcelo works with Arturo at his law firm for the summer and does all that he is asked, then he will be allowed to choose whether he would like to return to Paterson for his senior year, or if he would like to attend the public high school.

Upon entering "the real world," Marcelo is constantly learning about himself and those around him, and realizes that people are not always what they seem. He also learns that it can be difficult to decide what it means to do the right thing. At times funny and at other times heartbreaking, Francisco X. Stork's Marcelo in the Real World is a fascinating, fun read where one can see the world through the eyes of an innocent boy and see how he much he changes over one short summer.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sue Recommends Reckless by Andrew Gross

Andrew Gross became well known when he co-authored books with James Patterson. However, Mr. Gross's own books are, in my opinion, much better written and the plot is much more complex and well-conceived than any that reached bestseller status with Mr. Patterson.

His latest, Reckless, integrates the idea of financial terrorism within the global banking industry that becomes deadly for those executing stock transactions. We have all been amazed in real life at the ability of these people to wreak havoc on global economies. Mr. Gross is able to take a fictional scheme and bring suspense, murder, and terror to a story that hooks the reader as a former NYPD cop, Ty Hauck, a character from Dark Tide and Don't Look Twice, and Naomi Blum, a U.S. Treasury Agent try to find the persons responsible for this financial scheme and save the global economy as major banks collapse. 5 stars in my book. Who is responsible? SH

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Megan suggests: The Last of Her Kind

The Last of Her Kind by Sigrid Nunez

Two women meet at Barnard College in 1968. One is from a broken home in northern New York State. The other is from a wealthy family. Ann has nothing but disdain for the ruling classes into which she was born and romanticizes Georgette's underprivileged upbringing. Caught up in the 60s, Ann becomes a political radical and gets involved in the dark side of counter-cultural idealism. She eventually goes to prison for murder. Narrated by Georgette, this is an interesting and original book.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rob Recommends The X-President by Philip Baruth

So, imagine yourself as a biographer conducting interviews with the 109-year-old former President Bill Clinton in the year 2055. Pres. Clinton is being held together by a mass of artificial components, but his mind remains focused on his historical legacy. Unfortunately for him, you are prepared to maintain your academic integrity with a biography that is not entirely kind to that legacy. Suddenly, you are snatched from the comfy confines of the Clinton Presidential Library, drafted into the military to embark on a secret mission to help save the country from its enemies (both external and internal). Why you, you ask? It’s precisely because of your exhaustive knowledge of Clinton and his times, that you are being recruited to change history, change the very events which led to the national security disaster facing 2055 America. Are you prepared to serve your country? Can you get over the arrogant, duplicitous agents accompanying you? Are you ready for the danger? Can it even work?? Find out in The X-President, a 2003 novel (and NY Times Notable Book) by Philip Baruth.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tennis anyone?

With summer upon us, these DVDs can help you improve your tennis game and hit the courts with confidence. Find these and other instructional sports films in our Media Room.