Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tony Awards – 2017

The 71st Annual Tony Awards were held on June 11, 2017, to recognize achievement in Broadway productions during the 2016–17 season. The ceremony was held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and was broadcast live by CBS. 
Dear Evan Hansen was written by Pasek & Paul, with a book by Steven Levenson.  It opened on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre in December 2016.
The title character, Evan Hansen, is a high school senior with a social anxiety disorder who finds himself amid the turmoil that follows a classmate’s death.
Won: Best Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Music – Ben Platt as Evan Hansen, Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical – Rachel Bay Jones as Heidi Hansen, Best Book of a Musical – Steven Levenson, Best Original Score – Pasek & Paul, and Best Orchestrations – Alex Lacamoire.
Hello, Dolly! (Revival) is a 1964 musical with lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and a book by Michael Stewart, based on Thornton Wilder’s 1938 farce The Merchant of Yonkers.  The musical follows the story of Dolly Levi (a matchmaker), as she travels to Yonkers, New York, to find a match for the miserly Horace Vandergelder.
Won: Best Performance by a Leading Lady in a Musical – Bette Midler as Dolly Gallagher Levi, Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical – Gavin Creel as Cornelius Hackl, and Best Costume Design – Santo Loquasto.
Come From Away is a musical with book, music, and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein.  It is set in the week following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and tells the true story of what transpired when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town of Gander, Newfoundland.
Won: Best direction of a Musical – Christopher Ashley.

Friday, July 21, 2017

What Have YOU Been Reading Lately?

News of the World

I highly recommend the powerful, yet tender historical fiction novel News of the World by Paulette Jiles, a book I read quite recently. I am not alone in my positive feelings about this book. News of the World was a 2016 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.
Set in lawless, post-Civil War Texas, the novel’s hero is Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a retired Civil War captain. Now in his seventies, Kidd spends his time traveling through northern Texas as a respected news reader, giving live readings of the news to paying audiences who are eager to know the events of the world. At one of his stops Kidd is offered a $50 gold piece to return a 10-year-old girl, Johanna, to relatives 400 miles south in San Antonio. Kidd feels obligated to take the job.
Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister. The Kiowa spared Johanna and raised her as one of their own. Recently “rescued” by the U.S. army, the young girl has once again been torn away from the only home she can remember. She has forgotten the English language and rebels at all efforts to “civilize” her, attempting to escape at every opportunity.
The 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and dangerous and both Kidd and Johanna realize they must rely on one another in order to survive. Slowly a bond begins to form between the two. When they reach San Antonio and Johanna’s relatives, Kidd is confronted with a complex moral decision, one of the most difficult of his life.
The audio version of this title is also highly recommended.
What have YOU enjoyed reading lately? Let us know!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Return of Jo Nesbo

Recently, during a spring getaway to Scandinavian Door County, my home away from home, I picked up a copy of a Norwegian magazine celebrating the culture, taste, history, events and personalities of Norway. Lo and behold I see that one of my favorite crime writers, the award-winning Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbo is back with the 11th installment of his best-selling series featuring maverick detective Harry Hole. Just released in May, it is entitled The Thirst. This latest novel follows Hole’s return to the Oslo police force to hunt for a serial killer. The search becomes personal when evidence connects the killer to an unresolved investigation from Hole’s past and escalates as he seeks revenge on an old enemy.
These Nordic noir police procedurals feature a borderline alcoholic who is obsessed with his job, tormented by his personal demons, and a maverick on the job. The suspenseful, multi-textured plots weave Norwegian society’s dark problems with graphic violence and psychological insights into the well-rounded characters. Because Harry Hole changes over time, this series should be read in order. So start with –
The Bat (Oct 2012) 
Cockroaches (Jan 2013) 
The Redbreast (Jan 2000) 
Nemesis (Jan 2009) 
The Devil’s Star (Jan 2003) 
The Redeemer (Jan 2005)
The Snowman (Jan 2007)
The Leopard (Dec 2011)
Phantom (Oct 2012) 
Police (Oct 2013)
Nesbo has sold more than 30 million books worldwide. If you like crime fiction, give this series a try and I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Summer Blockbusters

The summer is in full blockbuster mode! After watching the latest hits at the theater, head on over to the library to check out similar movies! Below are four of this summer’s hits with a few suggested titles to try before or after.

  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: HOMECOMING feels like John Hughes, the director of this classic high school comedy, made his own superhero movie. Look for all the local Chicago landmarks in between laughs!
  • Batman: Michael Keaton goes from heroic Batman here, to villainous Vulture in HOMECOMING.
  • Almost Famous: Parts of HOMECOMING are less about being a superhero and more about coming of age. Almost Famous has been cited by HOMECOMING’s director as a primary influence.
  • Captain America: Civil War: Don’t miss Tom Holland’s first appearance on the big screen as Spider-Man! 

  • Funny People: A comedian, diagnosed with a terminal illness, tries to fix relationships he has damaged.
  • Don’t Think Twice: An improv comedy troupe faces a series of crises.
  • Obvious Child: An unemployed standup comedian deals with an unexpected pregnancy. 

  • The Blues Brothers: Car chases, good music, great laughs! Another Chicago classic makes a perfect pairing with this summer’s “Car Chase Musical”!
  • Hot Fuzz: The director of BABY DRIVER, Edgar Wright, also directed this acclaimed crime thriller parody.
  • Bullitt: This 1968 crime thriller features one of the most famous car chases in movie history!
  • Heat: The quintessential heist movie.

  • Apocalypse Now: Woody Harrelson’s character in the latest Apes movie is a great homage to the iconic Marlon Brando’s portrayal of Colonel Kurtz.
  • The Searchers: Despite its science fiction, post-apocalyptic setting, WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES owes a lot to classic westerns like this.
  • The Great Escape: Another classic Steve McQueen film, this adaptation of true events during World War II is a great companion to the epic conflict shown in WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES.
  • Cloverfield: The new APES franchise is not the first time director Matt Reeves has explored science fiction! Check out this surprising found footage film that also spawned a pseudo-sequel, 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Audiobooks: Beach Listens

Are you headed to the beach this summer?  If so take along one of these beach listens for your journey. Happy listening!
Given a last chance to save her career after being wrongly blamed for property damage, movie location scout Greer Hennessy confronts environmentally-minded mayor Eben Thinadeaux in a sleepy Florida Gulf Coast community.
Ignoring local gossip that pegs her as an eccentric, sixty-five-year-old Nantucket widow Nan skinny-dips in unattended pools and steals her neighbors' flowers before her diminishing funds force her to take in boarders, a change that brings an unexpected visitor.
The irresistible, irreverent mother-daughter team presents a new collection of funny stories and true confessions that every woman can relate to. From identity theft to the hazards of bicycling to college reunions and eating on the beach, Lisa and Francesca tackle the quirks, absurdities, and wonders of everyday life with wit and warmth.
Four friends who used to meet for a yearly summer beach vacation drift apart after one of their group tragically dies but reconvene years later.
The lifelong best friendship between privileged Emma and hardscrabble Maggie is tested and then cemented by the discovery that both are pregnant by the same man.

A fraught Montauk lawyer decides to defend a local man accused of murdering several ostentatious Hampton’s types and finds himself in the midst of another trial of the century.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

To Binge or Not to Binge

I have to admit, I have on occasion binged my way through entire television seasons. The temptation is just too great, sometimes it is hard to stop, there are no commercials to tolerate and you can easily fast forward and find out what happens next without having to wait a week. Here is a mix of drama and comedy, in no particular order, that may make it hard to get up off the couch.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Who's Your Wonder Woman?

The new Wonder Woman movie is now out in theaters. Below is a list of movies with strong women: they may not have super powers, but they're all superheroes in their own way. Who's your favorite? 

  • Aliens: Ellen Ripley survives the events of the first Alien film, only to go back to a hive of the dreaded creatures! 
  • Arrival: A linguist (Amy Adams) attempts to decipher the strange language of a visiting alien race. Don't miss the novella, "Story of Your Life".
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Lisbeth Salander, hacker extraordinaire, aids a journalist in unraveling a snarled mystery. You might also try the original Swedish film, or the book.
  • Hanna: Hanna, now 16, was raised to be the perfect assassin, and now is on the run across Europe.
  • Jackie: An account of Jacqueline Kennedy after the assassination of her husband. 
  • Kill Bill: Left for dead, "The Bride" (Uma Thurman) seeks revenge on her employer and his underlings. 
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: Max (Tom Hardy) might be the title character, but Charlize Theron steals the show as Furiosa in this non-stop post-apocalyptic action movie.
  • Miss Sloane: An ambitious lobbyist (Jessica Chastain) works to pass gun control legislation in this thriller. 
  • Princess Mononoke: The fearsome title character fights to protect the forest, which is being corrupted by an industrial village, in this epic anime. 
  • Room: Try the book, too! Brie Larson is set to get her own superpowers in the upcoming Captain Marvel movie, as well. 
  • The Silence of the Lambs: Clarice Starling (Jodi Foster) enlists the aid of a psychotic cannibal to catch another serial killer. Read the book!
  • Stoker: India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) begins to suspect that her mysterious uncle is not all that he seems in this Hitchcockian thriller. 
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane: Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes from a car accident in an underground bunker. Her rescuer claims that there was a massive attack and everyone outside is dead, but parts of his story don't quite add up...
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day: 10 years after a Terminator from the future was sent to assassinate her, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) has been targeted again - but this time she's ready. 
  • Wendy and Lucy: Penniless drifter Wendy (Michelle Williams) is on her way to Alaska in search of gainful employment, but when her dog goes missing her plans are put on hold.