Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer Tunes

Record of the week in my house is the new one from San Francisco garage rocker Mikal Cronin. A perfect roll down the car windows summer-time jam, MCII is full of narcotically catchy fuzzed out pop songs that balance chaos and melancholy with equal measure. It's been hard to dislodge this one from the CD player recently and as the last strains of the album's closer 'Piano Mantra' faded into the humidity the other day, my 6 year-old daughter asked "can we hear that one again, Dad?" I quickly replied "do you want to hear that last song --- OR the whole thing again?" She hesitated a second, then exhorted "the WHOLE thing".

There's plenty of other interesting new music in the popular collection. Use your library card to check-out some of these new titles as well:

Jake Bugg - self-titled

Queens of the Stone Age - Like Clockwork

Laura Marling - Once I Was An Eagle

Savages - Silence Yourself

Black Sabbath - 13

Deerhunter - Monomania

Guided By Voices - English Little League

Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

Phoenix - Bankrupt!

Sigur Ros - Kveikur

Monday, June 24, 2013

California or Bust!

Now that summer has arrived so has vacation time. So pack the car and the kids and get driving. If I could, I think I would head west. But for those of us who can't get away, here is a list of books that take place in sunny California. Enjoy!

Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
Gypped by Carol Higgins Clark
My Beautiful Hippie by Janet Nichols Lynch
The Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz
Hollywood Crows by Joseph Wambaugh
Model Home by Eric Puchner
The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters by Lorraine López
Market Street by Anita Hughes
California Fire and Life by Don Winslow
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gramophone Hall of Fame - 2013

Gramophone Hall of Fame celebrates those performers, producers, engineers and label executives whose contributions to classical music recording have proved the most influential and inspiring.

Alban Berg Quartet (String Ensemble)
Amadeus Quartet (String Ensemble)
Leif Ove Andsnes (Piano)
Maurice Andre (Trumpet)
Vladimir Ashkenazy (Pianist)

Karl Bohm (Conductor)
Adrian Boult (Conductor)
Julian Bream (Guitar)

Montserrat Caballe (Singer)
Sergiu Celibidache (Conductor)
Bernard Coutaz (Record Executive)

Colin Davis (Conductor)
Gustavo Dudamel (Conductor)

Renee Fleming (Singer)

Fred Gaisberg (Record Producer)
James Galway (Flute)
Emil Gilels (Piano)
Carlo Maria Giulini (Conductor)

Bernard Haitink (Conductor)
Thomas Hampson (Singer)
Klaus Heymann (Record Executive)
Heinz Holliger (Oboe, Conductor & Composer)

Steven Isserlis (Cello)
Mariss Jansons (Conductor)

Wilhelm Kempff (Piano)
The King's Singers (Vocal Ensemble)
Rafael Kubelik (Conductor)

James Levine (Conductor)
Goddard Lieberson (Record Executive)

Yo-Yo Ma (Cello)
Charles Mackerras (Conductor)
Wynton Marsalis (Trumpet and Composer)
Albrecht Mayer (Oboe)
Zubin Mehta (Conductor)
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (Piano)
Anne-Sophie Mutter (Violin)

Anna Netrebko (Singer)

Emmanuel Pahud (Flute)
Leontyne Price (Singer)

Sergey Rachmaninov (Piano)
Jean-Pierre Rampal (Flute)

Jordi Savall (Viola, Conductor and Composer)
Andres Segovia (Guitar)
George Szell (Conductor)

The Tallis Scholars (Vocal Ensemble)
Bryn Terfel (Singer)

Bruno Walter (Conductor)
Keenneth Wilkinson (Recording Engineer)
John Williams (Guitar)
Fritz Wunderlich (Singer)

More information about these artists can be found in the June edition of Gramophone.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Get Caught Listening! June is Audiobook Month!

Every year the Audio Publishers Association proclaims June "Audiobook Month". The APA also sponsors the Audie Awards--the "Oscars" of the audiobook world--recognizing distinction in audiobooks. Other organizations and publications also frequently highlight audiobook titles of note.

Below is just a sampling of some great audiobook titles that have recently received special recognition for excellence. Whether you are already an avid audiobook listener or a complete novice to the book-listening experience, one of theses titles might be the perfect choice to keep you company through your next workout, commute, or out-of-town getaway. All of these audiobooks can be found at the library in CD format. Many of them can also be downloaded to a portable listening device through the library's MyMediaMall subscription service.

For historical fiction enthusiasts:

The audiobook version of Hilary Mantel's Bring up the Bodies (12 discs, 14.5 hours) has achieved top recognition, including an Audie, from just about every audiobook reviewer in the business. Read by veteran narrator, Simon Vance, the story depicts the downfall of Anne Boleyn at the hands of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell. It is the 2nd title in the Wolf Hall trilogy which began with Wolf Hall, also available in audio format.

For general fiction listeners:

Edoardo Ballerini wonderfully narrates Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins, an Audie finalist (10 discs, 13 hours). 

In 1962, on a rocky patch of sun-drenched Italian coastline, a young innkeeper looks out over the incandescent waters of the sea and spies a woman, a vision in white, approaching him on a boat. He learns that she is an American starlet who is said to be dying. The story begins again in the present when, half a world away, an elderly Italian man shows up on a movie studio's back lot searching for the mysterious woman he last saw at his hotel decades earlier.

For fans of biography and memoir:

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle, with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice, read by John Pruden (9 discs, 10.5 hours)
The astonishing autobiography of SEAL Chief Chris Kyle, whose record 150 confirmed kills make him the most deadly sniper in U.S. military history.

Cronkite by Douglas Brinkley, read by George Guidall (10 discs, 12 hours)
This Audie finalist offers a candid look at the renowned, yet fiercely private, journalist and news anchor who reported on some of the biggest stories of the twentieth century.

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz, read by Kimberly Farr (20 discs, 25.5 hours)
Spitz draws on the iconic culinary figure's personal diaries and letters to present a one-hundredth birthday commemoration that offers insight into her role in shaping women's views and influencing American approaches to cooking.

Two Rings by Millie Werber, read by Yelena Shmulenson (6 discs, 7.75 hours)
A love kept secret for 60 years is finally revealed in this unconventional Holocaust memoir that was also an Audie finalist.

For those who can't get enough mystery and suspense:

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny, read by Ralph Cosham (11 discs, 13.5 hours)
When a peaceful monastery in Quebec is shattered by the murder of their renowned choir director, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir of the Saurete du Quebec are challenged to find the killer in a cloistered community that has taken a vow of silence. This Audie winner is the 8th title in the Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series and the 8th title read by Cosham, in what has proven to be a very successful author/narrator collaboration.

The Blind Goddess by Anne Holt, read by Kate Reading (9 discs, 11.5 hours)
A small-time drug dealer is found battered to death on the outskirts of Oslo. A young Dutchman, walking aimlessly in Oslo, covered in blood, is taken into custody but refuses to talk.

Creole Belle by James Lee Burke, read by Will Patton (15 discs, 18 hours)
While in a New Orleans recovery unit, detective Dave Robicheaux meets a Creole girl whose subsequent disappearance prompts his search for the girl's sister against a backdrop of a bayou-threatening oil well rupture in the Gulf of Mexico. This is Burke's 19th Dave Robicheaux novel.

The Nightmare by Lars Kepler, read by Mark Bramhall (13 discs, 16.5 hours)
In this Audie finalist, Detective Joona Linna returns to investigate a series of interlinking murders surrounding a suspicious Swedish arms deal. This title is a sequel to The Hypnotist, also available in audio format and narrated by Bramhall.

For lovers of romantic suspense:

The Witness by Nora Roberts, read by Julie Whelan (14 discs, 16.5 hours)
At age 16, Elizabeth Fitch was in the wrong place at the wrong time and witnessed a double homicide in progress. Elizabeth vanished, then reinvented herself as Abigail Lowery, freelance security consultant. After 12 years on the run, Abigail moves to an isolated cabin on the outskirts of sleepy Bickford, Arkansas, where she attracts the interest of town police chief Brooks Gleason. Gleason believes he can help Abigail when her past finally catches up to her. But can she trust him with her life (or her heart)? An Audie winner.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Man of Steel

The Superman saga continues with the June 14 release of the movie "Man of Steel", directed by Zack Snyder and stars, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, and Russell Crowe. As a young boy, Clark Kent finds it difficult to cope with his superpowers and discovers that he is not from this planet.  As a young man, he begins a quest to find out where he came from and why he's here. But his journey to self-discovery is interrupted and the superhero must emerge in order to save the world from enemy invaders.  Try one these before you buy your movie ticket.

Superman: the movie (1978) starring: Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Marlon Brando, and Gene Hackman
Superman II (1980) starring: Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Valerie Perrine, Ned Beatty and Jackie Cooper
Superman III (1983) starring: Christopher Reeve, Richard Pryor, Jackie Cooper and Marc McClure
Superman IV: the quest for peace (1987) starring: Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, Jackie Cooper, Marc McClure, and Jon Cryer
Superman Returns (2006) starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Boseworth, Kevin Spacey, and James Marsden


Fiction (novels based on the Superman character)
Enemies & Allies by Kevin J. Anderson
The book of lies by Brad Meltzer
It's Superman!: a novel by Tom De Haven
The death and life of Superman: a novel by Roger Stern

Superman: the high-flying history of America's most enduring hero by Larry Tye
Siegel and Shuster's funnyman: the first Jewish superhero, from the creators of Superman by Tom Andrae

Monday, June 10, 2013

Funny Father Fiction for June

"Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope"
-Bill Cosby

While fatherhood is serious business, it helps to remember that we are all human and there is a funny side to how fathers relate to their children.  It's almost Father's Day, so in honor of this auspicious occasion, I thought I'd list novels that explore the humorous side of being a Dad.


Donorboy by Brendan Halpin
After the deaths of her mother and her lesbian lover in an accident, Rosalind, a troubled teen, finds herself living with Sean, the sperm-donor father she has never met, who takes on the task of caring for a grieving teenager.

Perfect Skin by Nick Earls
When life throws him an unexpected curve, thirty-something laser surgeon and single father Jon Marshall must enter the world of dating in a post-Duran Duran world where he has many misadventures.

Hollywood Dodo by Geoff Nicholson
Accompanying his starry-eyed daughter to Hollywood, self-appointed "moral bodyguard" Dr. Henry Cadwallader watches her ambitions flourish in unexpected ways, a situation that is complicated by a young man's determination to resurrect an extinct bird.

Ask Again Later by Jill A. Davis
Taking a break from her career when her mother is diagnosed with a highly treatable form of cancer, lawyer Emily is disillusioned by her mother's dramatic attention-seeking behaviors and takes an unobtrusive job in her father's law firm.


Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Hilarious, energetic, and profoundly touching, a debut novel follows a young writer as he travels to the farmlands of eastern Europe, where he embarks on a quest to find Augustine, the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis, and, guided by his young Ukrainian translator, he discovers an unexpected past that will resonate far into the future.

Rich Part of Life by Jim Kokoris
Teddy and his brothers find their lives thrown into turmoil by the death of their mother and, soon afterwards, a winning lottery ticket that leaves the family with more money than they ever imagined.

Man and Boy by Tony Parsons
Harry Silver has everything that money can buy, and everything it can't. He's a successful TV producer, with a beautiful wife and an adorable young son. Yet something is niggling Harry. He's about to turn 30, and the end of his youth seems to be looming.

Book Against God by James Wood
His marriage and academic career falling apart, philosophy doctoral student and chronic liar Thomas Bunting secretly writes an atheistic manuscript he hope will be his opus and returns to the side of his ailing parish priest father.

Meely LaBauve by Ken Wells
Fifteen-year-old Meely LaBauve comes of age in the Catahoula Bayou, where he struggles to have a relationship with his father, a drunk and an alligator hunter, and survive in a tough neighborhood.

Handling Sin by Michael Malone
Raleigh Hayes has barely finished lunch when he receives news that his eccentric father, Earley Hayes, has checked himself out of the hospital, drained his bank accounts, and left town in a yellow Cadillac convertible in the company of a mysterious, young black woman who, rumor has it, the elder Hayes intends to marry.

So there you have a walk on the lighter side.  Hope you have a Happy Father's Day full of fun and memories with your fathers!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Andrew Greeley, 1928-2013

Andrew Greeley passed away on May 29 at the age of 85. Over his long life, he wore many hats as a
priest, author and sociologist. He was known for speaking his mind and for challenging typical conventions. His writing career spanned over five decades, resulting in 66 fiction books, 72 non-fiction books and numerous contributions to the Chicago Sun-Times, The New York Times, America, National Catholic Reporter and Commonweal.

With such a large body of work, there is something for every reading taste. To start with, take a look at this list of titles.

The Cardinal Sins- This novel was Greeley's first commercial success and tells the story of the decades-long friendship of two very different Catholic priests whose disparate challenges separate them after seminary school, prompting one to clash with his superiors and the other to struggle with his feelings for a former sweetheart.

The Senator and the Priest - Working hard in the U.S. Senate for the rights of the underprivileged, Tommy Moran is determined to restore compassion and civility to American politics, only to find himself the target of vicious personal attacks, false rumors, and assassination attempts.

Irish Gold  (Nuala Anne McGrail series) - In the first of this supsenseful and atmospheric series Dermot Coyne goes to Dublin to investigate his parents' departure from Ireland during the Time of Troubles in 1922 and learns much about his Irish heritage from Nuala Anne McGrail. This series consists of 12 books.

Virgin and Martyr (Blackie Ryan series) - In the first book of this mystery series, four men probe the life and death of Cathy Collins, a young Catholic nun tortured and killed by the soldiers of a Latin American dictator. This series consists of 17 books.

Family Saga
A Midwinter's Tale (O'Malley Family Saga)- The first volume in the 20th century saga of the O'Malley family of Chicago. It begins with the story of Charles Cronin O'Malley's coming of age, graduation from high school in 1946, and service with the Army in a still much-traumatized Germany. All he wants is to go to Notre Dame and have a nice, orderly life, but the Deity seems to have other plans for him. This series consists of 6 books.

Furthermore: Memories of a Parish Priest
Greeley shares his memories of life as a parish priest, his involvement in church politics and important contemporary issues, and his thoughts on the people he has met along the way.

Andrew Greeley's Chicago
Chicago, in the words and photographs of Greeley.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Shakespeare Rewritten

     We've all heard of William Shakespeare, right?  Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, All's Well That Ends Well?
     But did you know that there are many novels that have been written based on Shakespearean plots and characters (the technical term for this is "pastiche") or imagined accounts of Shakespeare's life?  These works usually serve to celebrate Shakespeare's creations rather than to mock them. 
     Here are a few titles you could take a look at.  See if you recognize the Shakespearean plot or style or characters they employ.

Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray
Meet the Cacciamanis and the Rosemans, rival florists and bitter enemies for as long as either family can remember, until one day when divorced Julie Roseman and widowed Romeo Cacciamani meet by chance at a small business seminar in the Boston Sheraton.

Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper 

Her engagement to William Shakespeare broken by his forced marriage to a pregnant Anne Hathaway, Anne Whateley pursues a clandestine affair with the bard that is complicated by Elizabeth I's campaign to eradicate Catholicism.

I, Iago by Nicole Galland
From the author of The Fool's Tale comes a brilliantly-crafted retelling of Shakespeare's Othello in which the "true" motivations of literature's greatest villain, Iago, are revealed.

Gertrude and Claudius by John Updike
Set before the action begins in Shakespeare's "Hamlet," this speculative novel follows the lives of Gertrude and Claudius, King and Queen of Denmark, as they wend their way towards adultery and treachery to ascend the throne.

Thirteenth Night by Alan Gordon
A mystery sequel to Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, set in thirteenth-century Europe, concerns a secret organization known as the Fool's Guild, the murder of the Duke of Orsino, and a jester's struggle with Malvolio, a supporter of Saladin.

Macbeth by A.J. Hartley
A novelized adaptation of Shakespeare's play follows Macbeth and his wife as they develop a plan to keep Scotland united but find themselves entangled in a web of murder and treachery.