Sunday, November 23, 2014

Holiday Fiction

Check out some of this year's Christmas fiction new releases. These are sure to put you in the holiday spirit!

Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
A family reunion at Kelley Quinn's Nantucket inn is thrown into turmoil by his four adult children's personal dramas and the discovery of his second wife's infidelity.

The Nightingale Before Christmas: a Meg Langslow Christmas Mystery by Donna Andrews
As the holidays draw near in Caerphilly, Mother volunteers to take part in in a big Christmas-themed decorator show house, insisting on Meg's help. Then the rooms start to be sabotaged, and an unfortunate designer turns up dead--making Mother a prime suspect. Can Meg catch the real killer in time to save Mother the indignity of arrest?

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas: a Jane Austen Mystery by Stephanie Barron
Invited to spend the Christmas holiday season of 1814 at the ancestral home of the wealthy Chute family, Jane investigates the suspicious death of a Yuletide reveler whose killer is among the snowbound guests.

A Crafty Christmas by Molly Cox Bryan
While on a 10-day scrapbook-themed cruise in the Caribbean, Sheila finds her dreams of rest and relaxation shattered when a famous crafter is murdered aboard the ship and she becomes the number one suspect, forcing her to catch a killer before her own freedom goes overboard.

A Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas
Sewing a special quilt during the months she waits for her soldier husband to return from the Civil War, Eliza Spooner bonds with other women in the face of a terrible loss and makes a difficult choice when she is asked to help an escaped slave.

Ho-Ho Homicide: a Liss MacCrimmon Scottish Mystery by Kaitlyn Dunnett
While spending a week at her friend's Christmas tree farm, Liss MacCrimmon Ruskin is drawn into a mystery involving a dead body in a shipment of Scotch pine, a series of "accidents," and a strange maze of trees.

The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans
Lonely divorcee Elise Dutton accepts a man's proposition to pretend for eight weeks--until the evening of December 24-- to be a couple. As the charade progresses, the safety of her fake relationship begins to mend her badly broken heart. But just as she begins to find joy again, her long-held secret threatens to unravel the emerging relationship. But she might not be the only one with secrets.

Death of a Christmas Caterer by Lee Hollis
Hayley Powell finds her search for a cook to cater the office Christmas party turning into a murder investigation when the greedy gourmet who refused the job is found dead on his kitchen floor

Mr. Miracle: a Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber
Assigned to help young college student Addie Folsom get her life back on track, guardian angel Harry Mills poses as a teacher and oversees her relationship with contrary neighbor, Erich Simmons, with whom Addie is forced to spend Christmas.

Nora Bonesteel's Christmas Past: a Ballad Novella by Sharyn McCrumb
When the new owners of the old Honeycutt house decide to stay through Christmas, they discover something hidden in the walls of the house.

The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak
Single Eve Harmon feels down during the Christmas season when all of her friends are married, but her attitude suddenly changes when a handsome stranger comes to town.

A New York Christmas by Anne Perry
December, 1904. Jemima Pitt agrees to act as a "suitable companion" to her friend Delphinia, who is traveling to New York to be married to Brent Albright, toast of New York high society. Jemima is excited about the prospect of a Christmas adventure in a strange big city, but little does she expect to be enlisted on a top secret mission by Brent's brother Harley, to track down Delphinia's estranged mother.

Festive in Death by J.D. Robb
Personal trainer Trey Ziegler was in peak physical condition. If you didn’t count the kitchen knife in his well-toned chest. Lieutenant Eve Dallas soon discovers a lineup of women who’d been loved and left by the narcissistic gym rat. While Dallas sorts through the list of Ziegler’s enemies, she’s also dealing with her Christmas shopping list—plus the guest list for her and her billionaire husband’s upcoming holiday bash. Feeling less than festive, Dallas tries to put aside her distaste for the victim and solve the mystery of his death. There are just a few investigating days left before Christmas, and as New Year’s 2061 approaches, this homicide cop is resolved to stop a cold-blooded killer.

Christmas at Tiffany's by Karen Swan
In the wake of a heartbreaking betrayal, Cassie leaves the Scottish countryside to find her destiny in three of the most exciting cities in the world -- New York, Paris, and London -- in this funny and triumphant tale of fulfillment, friendship, and love.

An Island Christmas by Nancy Thayer
As the calendar counts down to Christmas, Felicia heads to Nantucket to marry the love of her life, Archie. The twinkling lights that beckon from every window, the snow dusting the beautiful streets, the gorgeous red and white satin dress -- every detail is picture-perfect for a dream wedding. The only problem is, this is not Felicia's dream. Happier hiking in shorts than tending to hearth and home like her more traditional sister Lauren, Felicia has only agreed to a lavish winter wedding to make her mother Jilly happy. Just when it seems like this family is fated to wake up on Christmas morning to stockings full of coal, a holiday surprise brings them together for a very merry celebration.

Shadows on a Maine Christmas: an Antique Print Mystery by Lea Wait
After Maggie Summers, celebrating Christmas in Maine with her aunt, learns of a suspicious murder she receives a note containing a blackmail threat and, as she looks into the crime, discovers a dark secret from the past.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Founding Foodies

This is a great and concise title on how our founding fathers really were the first foodies in the land. Jefferson and Washington were plantation owners and experimented with crops and vegetables in their particular states. Franklin spent time in France as the U.S. ambassador and definitely enjoyed himself while there! He also was a early supporter of corn. Jefferson used his time in France to discover new plants and vegetables and had some of them brought back to Monticello.
This book goes into detail about food (and drink) during colonial times and how the tavern really helped the growth of the democracy. There is also a lengthy section with recreated recipes. There is a very detailed appendix with historic colonial foodie sites to visit. And perhaps best of all - an extremely detailed bibliography for more books both on Washington, Jefferson and Franklin, but food and living during colonial times. A fun read.
For more on the founding fathers and food try:

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lyric Opera of Chicago Lectures

Anna Bolena by Gaetano Donizetti (November 20, 2014)

First performed on December 26, 1830 at Teatro Carcano in Milan, Italy, the opera recounts the life of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of England's King Henry VIII.  The duet "Sul suo capo aggravi un Dio" between Anna and Jane Seymour, who later became Henry VIII's third wife, is considered one of the finest in the entire operatic repertoire.

This opera is a new production at the Lyric, featuring Sondra Radvanovsky (Anne Boleyn), Jamie Barton (Jane Seymour), Bryan Humel (Percy), John Relyea (Henry VIII), and Kelley O'Connor (Smeton)  It is being performed from December 6-January 16.

Tosca by Giacomo Puccini (January 15, 2015)

The opera was first performed in Rome, Italy in 1900.  The heroine's boyfriend (Cavaradossi) is tortured in the second act at the hands of Scarpia, the villain. Scarpia then tries to force himself on Tosca, but she stabs him to death.

At the end of the story, heroine Tosca is supposed to leap to her death from the roof of the prison.  Most productions equip the stage floor, behind the set, with a huge trampoline/mattress to cushion her fall.  However more than one production miscalculates the bounciness of the trampoline.  In 1960, at the Giacomo Puccini City Center in New York, a large American who landed not on a mattress, but on a trampoline bounced 15 times before the curtain fell - sometimes upside down, then the right way up - now laughing with glee - now screaming with rage.

Other disasters included the soldiers shooting Tosca instead of Cavaradossi and then leaping after her when she jumps at the San Francisco Opera in 1961.  Also in 1950 at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Maria Jeritza tripped up and fell flat on her face in front of Scarpia. She sang her entire aria 'Vissi d'art' lyring on her stomach.

Featured singers at the Lyric are Tatiana Serjan and Hui He (Tosca), Misha Didyk and Jorge de Leon (Cavaradossi), and Evgeny Nikitin and Mark Delavan (Scarpia).  It is being performed from January 24- March 14.

Tannhauser by Richard Wagner (January 29, 2015)

The opera was first performed in Dresden, Germany in 1845.  It involves lessons in Love, Forgiveness, and even meeting the Pope.  It also opens with a full-blown orgy.  After its disastrous Paris premiere because of The Jockey Club, Wagner withdrew it from performance for the nest 30 years.

Wagner's entire life seems to have been dominated by the number 13.  The name Richard Wagner contains 13 letters.  He was born in 1813. (Those digits also add up to 13.)  He was exiled from German for 13 years.  His opera Tannhauser was on the 13th of April and its disastrous Paris premiere was on March 13.  Wagner wrote 13 opera and died on February 13 in the 13th year of the new German government.

The featured singers at the Lyric are Johan Botha (Tannhauser), Amber Wagner (ELisabeth), Michaela Schuster (Venus), Gerald Finley (Wolfram), and John Relyea (Landgraf).  It is being performed from February 9-March 6)

The Passenger by Mieczyslaw Weinberg (February 12, 2015)

This opera was suppressed for more than 40 years.  It was first performed in Russian Passazhirka in 1968.  The libretto is based on the Polish radio play Passenger from Cabin Number 45 (1959) by concentration camp survivor Zofia Posmysz.

The action moves between the white deck of an ocean liner in the early 1960s, where Liese and her husband Walter are bound for Brazil, along with Marta a former prisoner, and the dark horrors of the death camp below, where Liese served as a German SS officer in Auschwitz.

The featured singers are Amanda Majeski (Marta), Daveda Karanas (Liese), Brandon Jovanovich (Walter), Joshua Hopkins (Tadusz), Kelly Kaduce (Katya), and Judith Forst (Bronka).  It is being performed from February 24-March 15.

All lectures will take place in the Multipurpose Room on Thursdays from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Forthcoming Fiction in December

Here are some Fiction titles coming out in December. You can reserve them by searching our Online Catalog, or give us a call at 847-729-7500.

Perfect Sins by Jo Bannister
Scorched Eggs by Laura Childs
Enter Pale Death by Barbara Cleverly
Once Upon a Grind by Cleo Coyle
You Know Who Killed Me by Loren D. Estleman
Die Again: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel by Tess Gerritsen
Saving Grace by Jane Green
The Assassination Option by W.E.B. Griffin
The Big Finish: A Thorn Novel by James W. Hall
Rain on the Dead by Jack Higgins
Collision by Mercedes Lackey
Love Song by Elizabeth Lowell
Woman With a Gun by Phillip Margolin
Deeds of Darkness: a Homefront Detective Mystery by Edward Marston
A Ticket to Oblivion: a Railway Detective Novel by Edward Marston
The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid
Suspicion at Seven by Ann Purser
Hush by Karen Robards
The Iris Fan: a Novel of Feudal Japan by Laura Joh Rowland

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thanksgiving Prep

Yes, Thanksgiving really is almost here, but there is more to prepare than the turkey and pumpkin pie. We need to get ready to enter a whole new season, and a book or movie from the library could be just the thing to help. Here are a few of each that feature Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving NightRichard Bauch
The story is set in the small Virginia valley town of Point Royal in 1999. The novel is a touching and empathetic portrayal of family: the one we have, and the ones we make. The people who populate these pages are flawed, wounded, stubborn, willful, scarred, often wildly eccentric, and all searching, in one way or another, for love.

The Lay of the Land Richard Ford
After his second wife leaves him and he has been diagnosed with cancer, Frank Bascomb tries to bring his family together for Thanksgiving weekend.

Dear James – John Hassler
“In this warm, uplifting, wryly humorous novel, the town's moral conscience, Miss Agatha McGee, takes the entire population on an adventure of truthfulness, charity, and forgiveness that no … reader will soon forget." The book starts with a funny lonely hearts Thanksgiving dinner scene, during which Miss Agatha wonders how she will ever survive her retirement from teaching with only the support of the strange assortment of semi-functional friends gathered around her table.

“The Thanksgiving Visitor” – Truman Capote (in The Complete Stories of Truman Capote)
In this beloved story, based on Capote’s childhood memories, narrator Buddy tells the story of the Thanksgiving his eccentric cousin invited Buddy’s sworn enemy to share the meal with them.

Patchwork PlanetAnne Tyler
This book includes a disastrous, funny Thanksgiving potluck meal as a key scene.

Thanksgiving - Janet Evanovich
When Megan Murphy discovered a floppy-eared rabbit gnawing on the hem of her skirt, she meant to give its careless owner, Dr. Patrick Hunter, a piece of her mind. But soon the two are making Thanksgiving dinner together.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Neal Page (Steve Martin) wants to fly home to spend Thanksgiving with his family. Del Griffith (John Candy) leads Page on a hilarious, cross-country, wild goose chase that keeps him from tasting his turkey.

Claudia Larson (Holly Hunter) is a divorced single mom who just lost her job and now has to fly home for the traditional family Thanksgiving in Baltimore. From the plane, she calls her brother Tommy (Robert Downey Jr.), who makes it down from Boston with a little surprise: a handsome friend named Leo. Between dropping the turkey in their sister's lap and a few fist fights on the front lawn, Claudia and Tommy recapture their childhood and Claudia and Leo explore the sweet possibility of romance.

Pieces of April 
Family outcast April (Katie Holmes) lives in a beat-up apartment in New York's Lower East Side with her boyfriend, Bobby. In order to spend some time with her dying mother, April invites her conservative suburban family to her place for a Thanksgiving feast. While she frantically tries to complete the meal, the family drives in from Pennsylvania sharing less-than-pleasant opinions about April's lifestyle. Her dad tries to think positively, while sister Beth flaunts her good-girl status and brother Timmy captures it all on film.

An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving
Things are so bad for recently widowed farmer Mary Bassett and her three children that this Thanksgiving they may not even be able to afford a turkey for their dinner. Suddenly, Mary's wealthy and estranged mother Isabella (Jacqueline Bisset) comes for a visit.

The New World

Set amidst the first encounter of European and Native American cultures during the founding of the Jamestown settlement, this movie 
tells the classic tale of Pocahontas (Q'orianka Kilcher) and her relationship with adventurer John Smith (Colin Farrell).

The Blind Side
Michael Oher is a homeless African-American teenager who is from a broken home. Mike is taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential.

Monday, November 3, 2014

K.I.S.S.I.N.G – Teen Love Stories, or Something Like That

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.
When seventeen-year-old Tana wakes up following a party in the aftermath of a violent vampire attack, she travels to Coldtown, a quarantined Massachusetts city full of vampires, with her ex-boyfriend and a mysterious vampire boy in tow.

Forever by Judy Blume. 
Two high school seniors believe their love to be so strong that it will last forever.

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen. 
During her last summer at home before leaving for college, Emaline begins a whirlwind romance with Theo, an assistant documentary filmmaker who is in town to make a movie. 

The Pact: a love story by Jody Picoult. 
A teenage suicide pact between a pregnant girl and her boyfriend, both children of wealthy New England families. He shoots her, but fails to shoot himself and is charged with murder. At the trial he explains what made them do it.

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. 
Perfect strangers Graham Larkin and Ellie O'Neill meet online when Graham accidentally sends Ellie an e-mail about his pet pig, Wilbur. The two 17-year-olds strike up an e-mail relationship from opposite sides of the country and don't even know each other's first names. What's more, Ellie doesn't know Graham is a famous actor, and Graham doesn't know about the big secret in Ellie's family tree. When the relationship goes from online to in-person, they find out whether their relationship can be the real thing.