Friday, August 17, 2018

Back to school screening

So here we are again, almost time for back to school. This summer seemed to go faster than any other. While I hate to see the carefree days of summer leave, I am looking forward to cooler weather. There is a school-themed list of movies to check out to help you switch gears.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Dead Poet's Sociey
School of Rock
Bring It On
Breakfast Club
Sixteen Candles
Pretty in Pink
Easy A
Some Kind of Wonderful
Better Off Dead

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

From Russia with Love...or What's New in Spy Fiction

If you are intrigued by the world of spies but prefer to experience the dramatic twists and turns of their lives in novels rather than in the news headlines (!), these recent fiction titles  may be of interest to you.

Who Is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht
New York City, 1962. Vera Kelly is struggling to make rent and blend into the underground gay scene in Greenwich Village. She's working night shifts at a radio station when her quick wits, sharp tongue, and technical skills get her noticed by a recruiter for the CIA. Next thing she knows she's in Argentina, tasked with wiretapping a congressman and infiltrating a group of student activists in Buenos Aires. As Vera becomes more and more enmeshed with the young radicals, the fragile local government begins to split at the seams. When a betrayal leaves her stranded in the wake of a coup, Vera learns the Cold War makes for strange and unexpected bedfellows, and she's forced to take extreme measures to save herself.

The Deceivers by Alex Berenson
In the wake of a fatal incident in Dallas that may have been staged to look like a terrorist attack, former CIA agent John Wells is dispatched to Colombia to collect information from an old asset, a mission involving an audacious Russian plot that proves to be the most deadly of his career. By the Edgar Award-winning author of The Faithful Spy. 

The Kremlin's Candidate by Jason Matthews
Overhearing a Kremlin plot to install a spy in a high intelligence position so that the Russians can identify CIA assets in Moscow, Dominika launches a desperate mole hunt, only to be exposed and arrested before recklessly immersing herself in Kremlin palace intrigues in the hopes of stealing as much information as possible before her time runs out.
This is the third book in the Dominika Egorova and Nathaniel Nash trilogy. Start with Red Sparrow and follow it with Palace of Treason.

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland
A dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover the leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the United States stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents before facing an impossible choice that tests her loyalties to the agency and her own family. 

A Divided Spy by Charles Cumming
Former MI6 officer Thomas Kell takes the law into his own hands when an unexpected chance at revenge compels him to track a top Russian spy in possession of a terrifying secret, only to find himself embroiled in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. By the best-selling author of The Trinity Six.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Labor Day, Ken Burns and American History

Labor Day and the labor movement grew out of the need to protect the common interest of American workers. Organized labor unions fought for better wages, reasonable hours, and safer working conditions. The movement also led efforts to stop child labor, give health benefits and provide aid to injured or retired workers.
On the occasion of the coming Labor Day weekend, my thoughts turn to other defining times in the history of America from political and economic struggles to its national pastime and musical history. Who better to lead us on such an explorative journey of American history than Ken Burns, American filmmaker known for his style of using archival footage and photographs in stunning documentary films. His documentaries have earned two Academy Award nominations and have won several Emmy Awards, among other honors. His widely known documentary series include the America collection, history classics, and war series. Fortunately, the Glenview Public Library owns many of them for your viewing pleasure on the upcoming three day weekend. The following are just some of them:

The Vietnam War (2017)
Watch the story about one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history.
Jackie Robinson (2016)
The story of an American icon whose battle for first class citizenship for African Americans transcends sports.
The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (2014)
Three family members that redefined the relationship America had with their government and with each other.
The Address (2014)
Uncovers how President Lincoln's historic words motivate and engage students over 150 years later'
The Central Park Five (2012)
Story about five black and Latino teenagers whose lives were upended by a miscarriage of justice.
The Dust Bowl (2012)
A chronicle of the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history that nearly decimated wheat supply.
Prohibition (2011)
Tells the story of the rise, rule, and fall of the 18th Amendment and the era it encompassed.
The National Parks: America's Best Idea (2009)
This film features those willing to devote themselves to saving land that they loved and practicing democracy.
Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip (2003)
Defying what was thought to be impossible, Dr. Jackson drives cross country for the first time ever.
Jazz (2001)
America's greatest original art form is celebrated in this portrait of the roots for improvisational music.
Not For Ourselves Alone: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony (1999)
The little-known story of two women who led the fight to win the most basic civil rights for all American women.
Baseball (1994)
A series that examines nearly 200 years of American history through the prism of our national sport.
The Civil War (1990)
It was the most horrible, necessary, intimate, acrimonious, mean-spirited and heroic conflict of the nation.
The Statue of Liberty (1985)
Examines the nature of freedom and the statue's significance within American life.

There are many others so come visit the AV room at GPL and discover some others for yourself this Labor Day weekend.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Great Reads for Your Book Club

Looking for great novels for your book group? Try one of my favorite websites for book clubs ReadingGroupGuides. This website offers hundreds of reading guides in all genres including nonfiction titles. It has tips on how to start a book club, how to select a book, and how to run your book club. It even has fun contests to enter. Every year it publishes a list of "most requested guides" and I've chosen a few of my favorites from their list.

Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
News of the World by Paulette Hiles
Piece of the World by Christina Kline Baker

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Books to Explore a New Genre With

I have my favorite few genres that I read, and sometime I find it tricky to break out of my usual reading habits.  But by stepping out of my usual genres I've discovered some great reads that I would've otherwise missed out on experiencing.

Here are some suggestions if you're looking to try something new as your next read.

The Lost Family - Jenna Blum  Historical Fiction 

Resigning himself to solitude, chef and Auschwitz survivor, Peter Rashkin, in 1965 Manhattan, devotes himself to running Masha’s restaurant, until he meets and marries June, but the horrors of his past soon overshadow him, June and their daughter.

One bright spring morning in London, Diana Cowper - the wealthy mother of a famous actor - enters a funeral parlor. She is there to plan her own service. Six hours later she is found dead, strangled with a curtain cord in her own home. Enter disgraced police detective Daniel Hawthorne, a brilliant, eccentric investigator who's as quick with an insult as he is to crack a case. Hawthorne needs a ghost writer to document his life; a Watson to his Holmes. He chooses Anthony Horowitz. Drawn in against his will, Horowitz soon finds himself a the center of a story he cannot control. Hawthorne is brusque, temperamental and annoying but even so his latest case with its many twists and turns proves irresistible. The writer and the detective form an unusual partnership. At the same time, it soon becomes clear that Hawthorne is hiding some dark secrets of his own.

Spinning Silver - Naomi Novak Fantasy

A re-imaging of the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin.  Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father's inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty—until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold. When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk—grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh—Miryem's fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered.

Dr. Garrett Gibson, England's only female physician, and Ethan Ransom, a former Scotland Yard detective with mysterious loyalties, share a one-night stand before becoming embroiled in a dangerous mission that is complicated by their growing feelings for one another.

The Outsider - Stephen King  Horror
An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation...An eleven-year-old boy's violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City's most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. The case seems ironclad, especially when Anderson and the district attorney are able to add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. But Maitland has an alibi, and it turns out his story has incontrovertible evidence of its own. How can two opposing stories be true?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Armchair Travel: France

France just won the World Cup! Here's some fiction that will take you to France - no passport necessary.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Quirky and delightful, Nina George’s book focuses on Jean Perdu, owner of the Literary Apothecary, a floating bookshop. When a new tenant in his apartment building sets in motion events that force Jean to re-evaluate his past, he finds himself floating off down the rivers of France in search of lost love, new love, and friends he didn’t know he needed.

The French Girl by Lexie Elliot
Six friends from Oxford University spend an idyllic week in the French countryside that ends with a missing neighbor, the enigmatic Severine. Fast forward ten years and Severine turns up. Or rather her skeleton does in a well on the property. All six friends are suspects. Will the loyalties hold and who put Severine in the well? This is a fun, taut thriller.

Paris for One and other stories by Jojo Moyes
A collection of eight short stories is complemented by a novella in which a young woman abandoned during a romantic mini-vacation gathers the courage to embark on an independent tour of Paris.

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
A U.S. release of an award-winning best-seller from Morocco follows the relationship between a working French-Moroccan couple and their too-good-to-be-true nanny, whose devotion to their children spirals into a psychologically charged cycle of jealousies, resentments and violence.

The Paris Secret by Karen Swan
While assessing art in a Paris apartment that has been abandoned since the war, fine art agent Flora is thrown into the glamorous world of the Vermeils family until she makes a discovery that brings about a scandal.

Murderous Mistral: a Provence Mystery by Cay Rademacher
Vilified for his successful corruption investigations into his colleagues, Capitaine Roger Blanc is relocated to the south of France at the expense of his marriage and tackles a first murder case involving a reviled outsider whose demise is linked to the dark undercurrents of Provence.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Summertime, Food and Fun

So here we are, in the warm and steamy summer in Chicago, and the food festivals are off to a terrific start, from neighborhood rib and burger fests to Taste of Chicago and Taco Fest. Tacos are my favorite so I try really hard to make it to that festival every year. Check out some of the festivals around town and check out some food fiction listed below, whatever your favorite. Enjoy!

Cooking for Picasso
Kitchens of the Great Midwest
When In Doubt Add Butter
Pomegranate Soup
How To Cook a Tart
Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love
The Book of Unholy Mischief