Gregor the Overlander

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Click for availability and more information Gregor the Overlander, by Suzanne Collins
 
When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, and cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor's arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland's uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it -- until he realizes it's the only way to solve the mystery of his father's disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.
-Margaret

Primetime Blues

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Click for availability and more information Primetime Blues, by Donald Bogle
 
The downloadable electronic book Primetime Blues by Donald Bogle chronicles the history of African-American entertainers from the Golden Years of Radio to modern day cable TV. The author believes early male performers were stereotyped as clueless, uneducated, lazy characters. Female characters were depicted as "motherly" figures with no individuality, no back story. Bogle contends these stereotypes were carried forward through time, and are still present today to a certain extent. Furthermore, Black actors were more often than not cast as criminals, while White actors were seen as heroes. Sponsors shied away from shows that addressed the real concerns of the African-American - even though these were similar to Caucasians. So producers shied away, too. Well-educated Black actors - many who had attended prominent schools - were unable to find jobs to showcase their acting ability. African-American shows were few and far between. Critics complained that those that were broadcast failed to address the real problems of Black America.

This is an interesting book which approaches the entertainment industry from a different angle. It provides a lot of food for thought. Besides the historical connotation, it takes you on a nostalgic trip through the great shows of yesteryear. It reminds us that African-Americans have played a very important role in the entertainment industry.
-Carl

Click for availability and more information A Splash of Red; the life and art of Horace Pippin, by Jen Bryant
 
As a child in the late 1800s, Horace Pippin loved to draw: He loved the feel of the charcoal as it slid across the floor. He loved looking at something in the room and making it come alive again in front of him. He drew pictures for his sisters, his classmates, his co-workers. Even during W.W.I, Horace filled his notebooks with drawings from the trenches . . . until he was shot. Upon his return home, Horace couldn't lift his right arm, and couldn't make any art. Slowly, with lots of practice, he regained use of his arm, until once again, he was able to paint--and paint, and paint! Soon, people--including the famous painter N. C. Wyeth--started noticing Horace's art, and before long, his paintings were displayed in galleries and museums across the country.

This is an inspiring story of a self-taught painter from humble beginnings who despite many obstacles, was ultimately able to do what he loved, and be recognized for who he was: an artist.
-Margaret

Stigmata

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Click for availability and more information Stigmata
 
I found the movie Stigmata (1999) in our Hoopla database of downloadable movies. It's the story of a young girl, who does not believe in God , but starts to show signs similar to those left on the body of Christ by the Crucifixion. A priest from the Vatican, who is assigned to find scientific explanations for "paranormal" events, befriends the girl, and discovers her stigmata is not a hoax. The priest discovers a cover-up, and approaches the responsible party. He also uncovers a stunning secret, which could challenge his faith and threaten the Church.

This movie is a suspense thriller, which will keep you guessing. The acting and special effects are well done. Although it's slightly older, it's still worth viewing.
-Carl

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Breadcrumbs

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Click for availability and more information Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu
 
Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. But that was before the accident with the magical mirror, before Jack stopped talking to Hazel and before he disappeared into the forest with a mysterious woman made of ice. Now it's up to Hazel to go in after him. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, Breadcrumbs is a stunningly original fairy tale and a sweet tale about the love and loss of growing up.
-Margaret

The Secret Chicken Society

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Click for availability and more information The Secret Chicken Society, by Judy Cox
 
When Daniel's class hatches chicks as a science project, he adopts them. When he finds out that his favorite bird, Peepers, isn't a hen but a rooster, and therefore illegal to keep in the city of Portland, the Secret Chicken Society is quickly formed to save Peepers. This warmhearted chapter book about an environmentally-conscious family will provide plenty of clucks and lots of chuckles for young readers.
-Margaret

The English Spy

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Click for availability and more information The English Spy, by Daniel Silva
 
The English Spy is the 15th book in the Gabriel Allon series and, as usual, Silva has written a fast-paced, intriguing story that gives his readers a fine tale of espionage across an international setting. Silva begins his story on a Caribbean island where a widely-adored English princess (it could be modeled on Princess Diana) is assassinated. The English authorities get involved and the race for her killers begins. This is a great part of the book, especially when Gabriel Allon is recruited to help find the guilty assassins. As long-time readers of Silva know, Allon is a world-renown restorer of fine art paintings. He also has a "side job" working as an intelligence officer for the Israeli government. Tracing the assassin of the princess through a series of clues leads to an Irish connection, which is so interesting. As a reference, one of Silva's early books, The Marching Season, is centered on the Irish troubles of the 1980's and is also recommended for background reading for those who want to read a fine historical novel about that situation. One especially gripping part of the book is a terrorist attack in London which Allon witnesses. In all, this is a wonderful contribution by Silva to his fine series featuring Gabriel Allon and is recommended.
-Roy

Containment

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Click for availability and more information Containment
 
Containment (2015) is an offbeat British thriller about people being involuntarily "sealed" in their apartment buildings. Little information is available at first. Then a group of people in hazmat suits show up, and start removing people to (what is believed to be) a medical tent. Over time, people start fleeing, but they are shot as they attempt to leave the quarantine zone. The residents figure out how to go between apartments, and join forces to protect themselves. They try and figure out what is going on. You'll never see what's coming! The plot and acting are commendable. Profane language makes it unsuitable for younger viewers. This movie is worth your time if you like suspense!
-Carl

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Dreamland

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Click for availability and more information Dreamland, by Sam Quinones
 
A 2015 book, Dreamland covers the very timely and vexing issue of drug use and the illegal drug trade in recent American history. Sam Quinones is a journalist who has written this very insightful, meticulously-researched and very readable history of the rise of the pain-pill industry in 20th Century America as well as the growth of the heroin problem currently present in many American cities, both large and small. These two issues are connected and Quinones clearly shows how and why. With heroin, Quinones traces the origin of its recent American distribution to families from the Mexican state of Nayarit. Meticulous in their organization, these groups of heroin sellers have established control of its sale throughout the United States. Through interviews with these family members and the sellers they have recruited, Quinones details both how these folks have become involved in the drug trade and why they do it with great enthusiasm. Writing with great knowledge about the terrible issues involved with drug addiction, Quinones gives the reader great insight into this huge problem as well as various steps cities, states and private institutions must take to effectively combat drug addiction. Dreamland is a great book to read about this very current problem in American society and is highly recommended.
-Roy

Fortunately, the Milk

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Click for availability and more information Fortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman
 
When a father runs out to buy milk for his children's breakfast cereal, the last thing he expects is to be abducted by aliens, and he soon finds himself transported through time and space on an extraordinary adventure, where the fate of the universe depends on him and the milk--but will his children believe his wild story? Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal.
-Margaret

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

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Click for availability and more information The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger
 
Unpopular Dwight talks to his classmates via an origami finger puppet of Yoda. If that weren't strange enough, the puppet is uncannily wise. Origami Yoda predicts the date of a pop quiz, guesses who stole the classroom Shakespeare bust, and saves a classmate from popularity-crushing embarrassment with some well-timed advice. Dwight's classmate Tommy wonders how Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. With contributions from his puzzled classmates, he assembles the case file that forms this funny novel.
-Margaret

The Heist

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Click for availability and more information The Heist, by Daniel Silva
 
Fans of Daniel Silva keep growing in numbers and with The Heist, published in 2014 and number 14 in Silva's Gabriel Allon series, it is very easy to see why. As long-time readers of this series know, Gabriel Allon is a highly esteemed restorer of art works painted by the brilliant masters of European art. Yet, he also has another job as an agent of the Israeli government who becomes involved in international matters which can threaten the Israeli state and other issues. In The Heist, Allon's pal Julian Isherwood drags him into a nasty situation when Isherwood discovers a rogue art dealer who has been flayed and hung in the hall of an Italian estate. To prove Isherwood is innocent of any involvement with this brutal crime, Allon insulates himself into the mysterious world of art thieves who deal with extremely valuable paintings that have been stolen and sold on an international black market. Once again, Silva proves himself to be the master of international intrigue as the reader follows Allon untangling a vicious and dangerous web involving Middle Eastern politics and the murky, dangerous world of stolen art. As always in this series, the personal life of Allon comes into the plot and he is a terrifically wonderful character, who becomes a trusted friend to the reader as he races across Europe to find a solution to the crimes he uncovers. As a suggestion, the reader who has never read any of Silva's books involving Allon might enjoy this character and Silva's series featuring him the best by reading the series from the first book. The Heist is highly recommended as a great reading experience.
-Roy

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