Thursday, December 29, 2016

Ring in the New Year with New Year's Eve-Themed Movies!

A night on the town is festive and fun but if you want, try a better alternative to ringing in the New Year than paying astronomical prices for restaurant fare or spending hours waiting to get into a bar.
You could stay in solo or with family or friends or both and watch one of these New Year's Eve-themed movies. Plus, when you watch a movie on New Year's Eve, you don't actually have to stay up until January 1st. So, whether you go out to celebrate or curl up inside to celebrate, here is a list of films you should watch this holiday season.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)
This is the classic, quintessential romantic comedy with the best NYE scene of all time. Swooping in at the last minute, Harry arrives at the hotel to announce his love for Sally in one of the best-ever romantic confessionals to ever grace the screen. Party goers surround them while they bring in the new year with a kiss.

New Year's Eve (2011)
An ensemble cast celebrates love, hope, forgiveness, second chances and fresh starts, in intertwining stories told amidst the pulse and promise of New York City on the most dazzling night of the year.

Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
This is a romantic comedy perfect for a night with your girlfriends. "New year, new you" is a mantra many of us will hear when the calendar rolls over to January 1, and that's the title character's initial philosophy. But you knew that!

Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
This screwball comedy caper from the Coen brothers picks up as Barnes, the CEO of Hudsucker Industries offs himself. On New Year's Eve, crushed by the weight of his responsibilities, Barnes heads to a hipster bar to drown his sorrows.

Boogie Nights (1997)
This is a drama about exiting the 1970s with a literal bang. The festivities are brought to a head at porno king Jack Horner's house for his annual New Year's party. Also, the idea of enduring another year, much less a decade with his adulterous wife is too much for assistant director Little Bill (William H. Macy) who finds her in bed with another man again.

Strange Days (1995)
This science fiction tech thriller follows Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes), a former LAPD cop who turns to trading in black market virtual reality memories. His end-of-year good tidings are hampered when he discovers a batch containing the murders of people he knows. The celebration portion of this film is a swanky soiree held by shifty chap, Philo Gant, at the prestigious Bonaventure Hotel for the city's high society crowd.

Trading Places (1983)
After watching this hit mistaken identity comedy starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd, you might think twice before taking a train on New Year's Eve, especially if there is a gorilla on board.

Poseidon Adventure (1972)
This maritime disaster movie centers around a luxury liner bound for Athens from New York City. A preacher leads a group of passengers to safety through the bowels of the ship after it's struck by a tsunami. Look for the grandiose New Year's Eve dinner celebration in the ship's ballroom complete with a full ban;d, top notch cuisine and enough booze to sink a  . . . ahem.

Cheers to good films! Happy New Year's Eve and New Year too!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Kennedy Center Honors - 2016

Kennedy Center Honors will take place on December 4, 2016 and will air December 27 on CBS at 8:00 PM CT.
Martha Argerich (born June 5, 1941)
She is an Argentine pianist who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  The family moved to Europe in 1955, where Argerich studied with Friedrich Gulda in Austria.  Her parents had diplomatic posts in the Argentine embassy in Vienna.
Argerich has won innumerable competitions including the Geneva International Music Competition and Ferruccio Busoni International Competition at the age of 16.  In 1965 she debuted in the United States in Lincoln Center's Great Performers Series.
She has won three Grammy awards in 2000, 2005, and 2006.  In 2012, she was voted into Gramophone's Hall of Fame.

Eagles (formed in Los Angeles in 1971)
The original members of the Eagles were Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner.  They have sold more than 150 million records.  Two of their albums, Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) and Hotel California, are among the 20 best-selling albums in the United States.  The Eagles have won 6 Grammy Awards in 1975, 1977 (two awards), 1979, 2008, and 2009.
The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001.  In 1999, the Recording Industry of America honored the group with the Best Selling Album of the Century for Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975).  The Eagles were chosen last year for the Kennedy Center Honors, but because of Glenn Frey's poor health, the award was postponed.  He died a month later.

Al Pacino (born April 25, 1940)
Pacino is an American actor of stage and screen, filmmaker, and screenwriter.  He has won an Academy Award, two Tony Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, a British academy Film Award, four Golden Globe Awards, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, and the National Medal of Arts.

He was first nominated for Best Actor for Serpico in 1973 and won for his role as a blind Lieutenant Colonel in Scent of a Woman in 1992.  He won Tony Awards for Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie? and Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel.

Mavis Staples (born July 10, 1939)
Staples was born in Chicago, Illion and began singing with her family in 1950.  She sang in local churches and appeared on a weekly radio show.  she made her fir solo "Crying in the chapel" for Epic Records in the late 1960s.

She perforned at the 33rd Kennedy Center Honors, won her first Grammy Award for Best Americana Album in 2011, and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2011 from Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and from Columbia College in Chicago in 2012.

James Taylor (born March 12, 1948)
James Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist.  He was born at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where his father was a resident physician.  He has four siblings who are musicians and have recorded albums.

Taylor has won six Grammy Awards, including Best Pop Vocal Performance in 1971, 1977 and 2001, Best Pop Album in 1998, Best country collaboration with Vocals in 2003, and Grammy Award-sponsored MusiCares Person of the Year in 2006.  He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Laurie Colwin

Warm and comforting, the lovely books of author Laurie Colwin were about urban life and relationships between those who thought they might never find love. Colwin was also a columnist for Gourmet magazine and wrote several books about food and cooking. Her writing is just the right amount of charming for a cold winter’s read.

Family Happiness
Polly lives happily until she finds herself in a sweet, but painful love affair with painter Lincoln Bennett.

Happy All the Time
A comedy of manners about two couples and how they find love.
Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
About the joys of preparing and eating simple food.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Christmas Book Flood

While we are trimming our trees, hanging our stockings, and getting ready for a visit from Santa Claus, the residents of Iceland are preparing for their own special holiday tradition--Jólabókaflóð, or Christmas Book Flood.  

The majority of the publishing in Iceland occurs between September and December, and a massive catalog of books--the Bókatíðindi--is available to everyone to peruse and make their selections.  Books are considered one of the greatest gifts to give, and most families exchange them on Christmas Eve, and then settle in for a long night of cozy reading.

Here are some of our favorite Icelandic authors and books about Iceland.  Check one out today and start your own winter reading tradition!

Under the Glacier by  

A young Icelandic priest is sent to investigate the pastor at remote Snaefells Glacier and uncovers a mysterious and wild community full of phantasmagoria and eccentricity, in a provocative novel by the late Nobel laureate.

Jar City: A Reykjavik Thriller by Arnaldur Indridason

Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson heads up the investigation into the killing of a solitary man, found murdered in his Reykjavik apartment, only to discover that the victim has only two friends, one in prison and one missing for twenty-five years, and that the dead man had been accused but not convicted of a rape forty years earlier.  

The Whispering Muse by Sjón

Invited to sail on a Danish merchant ship in 1949, eccentric Icelander, Valdimar Haraldsson, discovers the second mate on the ship is none other than Caeneus, the hero of Greek mythology, who regales his fellow shipmates with tales of the Golden Fleece.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Based on the true story of the last woman to be executed in Iceland in 1829, a young woman accused of murdering her master is sent to an isolated rural farm to await execution and tells the farmer's family her side of the story

Sagas of the Icelanders

Published in conjunction with the 1,000th anniversary of Leif Eriksson's voyage to America, the medieval Viking "Sagas" commemorate the adventures of the people who first settled Iceland and then braved the perils of the north Atlantic to explore Greenland and North America, in a volume that includes a preface by Jane Smiley.

Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland by Sarah Moss

Novelist Sarah Moss had a childhood dream of moving to Iceland, sustained by a wild summer there when she was nineteen. In 2009, she saw an advertisement for a job at the University of Iceland and applied on a whim, despite having two young children and a comfortable life in an English cathedral city. The resulting adventure was shaped by Iceland's economic collapse, which halved the value of her salary, by the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull and by a collection of new friends.


Friday, December 16, 2016

NPR Best Books of 2016

With 2016 winding down there are many lists of the best book of the year coming out.  If you're looking for something good to read during your holiday breaks or while you stay inside out of the cold perusing some of these is a good place to start.  NPR has put out there list, and they offer a good sort-able list of genres.  Here are some selections from their fiction lists to consider picking up.

The Queen of the Night -
Alexander Chee
 Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera, a legendary soprano with every accolade except an original role, every singer's chance at immortality. When one is finally offered to her, she realizes with alarm that the libretto is based on a hidden piece of her past. Only four could have betrayed her: one is dead, one loves her, one wants to own her. And one, she hopes, never thinks of her at all.

The Wonder -
Emma Donoghue
Lib Wright, a young English nurse trained by the legendary Florence Nightingale, is sent to rural Ireland to observe Anna, a young girl who is said to have eaten nothing for four months. Lib fully expects to expose Anna's "fast" as a hoax, but her long hours with the girl erode all of her earlier assumptions about Anna, the Irish, and herself.

The Gustav Sonata
Rose Temain
Gustav Perle grows up in a small town in Switzerland, an only child, and befriends Anton Zweibel, a Jewish boy his age. Moving backward to the Second World War years and the painful repercussions of an act of conscience, and forward through the adult lives and careers of the two men, one who becomes a hotel owner, the other a concert pianist, this novel explores the intensity of a childhood friendship as it is lost, transformed, and regained over a lifetime.

Dark Matter -
Blake Crouch
One night after an evening out, Jason Dessen, forty-year-old physics professor living with his wife and son in Chicago, is kidnapped at gunpoint by a masked man, driven to an abandoned industrial site and injected with a powerful drug. As he wakes, a man Jason's never met smiles down at him and says, "Welcome back, my friend." But this life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife; his son was never born; and he's not an ordinary college professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something impossible. Is it this world or the other that's the dream? How can he possibly make it back to the family he loves?

Smoke: A Novel
Dan Vyleta
 In an alternate England, where people who are wicked in thought or deed are marked by the Smoke that pours from their bodies, Thomas, Charlie, and Livia notice that some people appear to be able to lie without triggering Smoke. As they dig deeper, they discover teachers who have mysterious ties to warring political factions, a sumptuous estate which hides attic rooms and laboratories, revolutionaries who are fighting against a secret police force. They begin to suspect that everything they have been taught about Smoke is a lie; but if that is a lie, what else about their world is lies? What is their place in the struggle between faith and reason, between good and evil? And who can they trust?

The Trespasser -
Tana French
 Being on the Murder Squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she's there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she's getting close to the breaking point. Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers' quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blond, pretty, groomed to a shine, and dead in her catalog-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There's nothing unusual about her--except that Antoinette's seen her somewhere before.

Another Brooklyn
Jacqueline Woodson
For August, running into a long-ago friend sets in motion resonant memories and transports her to a time and a place she thought she had mislaid: 1970s Brooklyn, where friendship was everything. August, Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi shared confidences as they ambled their neighborhood streets, a place where the girls believed that they were amazingly beautiful, brilliantly talented, with a future that belonged to them. But beneath the hopeful promise there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where mothers disappeared, where fathers found religion, and where madness was a mere sunset away.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...

This week marks the release of the newest Star Wars film, Rogue One, which takes place in between 2005’s Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and 1977’s original Star Wars film, Episode IV – A New Hope. It is the first Star Wars film to stray from the Skywalker family saga, though dedicated Star Wars fans know that the expanded universe has told stories from all over the galaxy. Here are a few Star Wars titles to enjoy, whether you’re counting down the minutes to Rogue One’s release, or just looking for a fun scifi adventure. 

  • The Clone Wars
    • Television Series. This animated series takes place in between Episode II - Attack of the Clones and Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
  • Catalyst
    • Novel. This new novel takes place before Rogue One and gives some background on some of the key new characters in the film. 
  • Episode IV- A New Hope
    • Movie. The blockbuster that started it all! Rogue One takes place just before A New Hope and ties in directly - so make sure you remember how it goes! 
  • Vader Down
    • Graphic Novel. Marvel's Star Wars comics feature a huge variety of your favorite Star Wars characters and take place all over the Star Wars timeline. This particular volume is in between A New Hope and Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back and shows the iconic Darth Vader at his most fearsome. 
  • Heir to the Empire
    • Novel. Known to many fans as "The Thrawn Trilogy", Heir to the Empire is the first of three novels and takes place shortly after Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
For even more Star Wars reads, stop at the Reader Services desk or browse the STAR WARS call number in our Science Fiction and Fantasy section.