October 2013 Archives

Click for availability and more information Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields, by Wendy Lower
 
The history of the role some German women played in serving the Nazi government and its murderous objectives during World War II can be, as Wendy Lower shows in the above-titled book, very disturbing and gruesome reading. Lower, a professor of history at Claremont McKenna College and a consultant for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, follows several German women from the war's beginning to the aftermath of the German defeat. Their--at times very enthusiastic--participation in the Nazi extermination of Jewish people often occurred as they worked their jobs serving the Nazi war machine.

In particular, the German drive eastward into Poland and the Ukraine during the first years of the war provided job opportunities for many German women. They took positions as nurses, teachers and administrative staff as the German Reich expanded tight control over these areas. As Lower shows, many women took these jobs for financial reasons as well as a great opportunity to travel and see the areas that Germany had newly conquered. And, many of these women ended up taking active roles in the German extermination of Jews. Lower also points out that wives of German officers often accompanied their husbands as they served the German Reich in the East and they too could become active in carrying out German atrocities. Lower's notes are extensive as she cites scholarly works, trial testimony, diaries and interviews to detail this historical chapter.

Hitler's Furies is a fascinating study of a facet of the German society during World War II. Possible answers are given as to why and how these women became swept up in supporting the German war effort in such a deadly way. This book is highly recommended and especially for World War II enthusiasts.
-Roy

Lawless

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Click for availability and more information Lawless
 
When I was browsing the DVD shelves on the second floor one day, I picked up the DVD Lawless because I saw Shia Labeouf's name on it. (I've enjoyed his acting ever since I saw him in The Greatest Game Ever Played.) The cover itself didn't really jump out at me; but as I've always known, "you can't judge a book (or DVD) by its cover". It's based on the true life of the 3 Bondurant brothers, who ran moonshine during the Prohibition period in the hills of Virginia. They sell to the speakeasies in major cities.

Business is doing fine, until some gangsters hit town. These unscrupulous thugs are trying to force the bootleggers to sell through them, but the Bondurants resist. Many locals and police authorities decide to go along with the gangsters since they see no other choice. The Bondurants resist. Add a mysterious, attractive woman from Chicago, and the storyline becomes very exciting.

My only complaint is the profanity-laced dialogue. I don't believe it's necessary to use offensive language to make a hit, but it is what it is. Nonetheless, it's a very good movie - well worth the time you invest.
-Carl

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The Raven Boys

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Click for availability and more information The Raven Boys, by Maggie Stiefvater
 
First in a projected series of four installments, The Raven Boys centers around young Blue Sargent, whose mother is the local psychic (she gives readings) in the town of Henritta, Virginia. Blue's always been told since childhood that if she ever kisses her true love, he'll die. That just gives her one more reason to avoid the preppy rich kids -AKA "the Raven Boys"- at the local Aglionby Academy. But one night, while with her "half aunt" Neeve (also a psychic, with her own TV show) in a graveyard, Blue discovers she has the same power as Neeve to "see" the spirits of people who are fated to die soon. The spirit she sees is that of Gansey, who with his fellow classmates Ronan and Adam, is trying to track down the spirit of a dead king. A search that one of their instructors is also bent on. To say more would spoil the surprises (like who was Blue's father and Neeve's secret agenda, for example). The Raven Boys is a terrific, spellbinding (in more ways than one) thriller that builds slowly, emphasizing character motivations while setting up a mystery that'll span the rest of the series. Maggie Stiefvater has a brisk, punchy style that holds the reader's interest. The Raven Boys will keep you glued from start to finish and leave you wanting to read the first sequel, The Dream Thieves, that just came out. Recommended.
-Ed

Don't Start With Me

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Click for availability and more information Don't Start With Me
 
Don't Start With Me is a one-woman show that was originally filmed for Showtime and then released on DVD in 2013. For those fans of Joan Rivers, this is a constant stream of her hilarious observations on life and so many well-known personalities. While Rivers was in her late 70's when this was presented, the show demonstrates she has lost none of her wit, stage presence, or stamina to stop at nothing in order to entertain. Salty and on the edge, Joan Rivers shows in this DVD why she still can command audience allegiance and give them a rousing good time. Highly recommended for Rivers's special brand of wild fun and hilarity!
-Roy

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An Invisible Thread

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Click for availability and more information An Invisible Thread, by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski
 
This is a true story that takes place in Manhattan. As the story opens up, a young boy is on the street begging passersby for spare change because he is hungry. Laura passes him by as he is asking her for change. She hears him begging but doesn't really hear him. His voice mixes in with the sounds of traffic and other city noises that New Yorkers learn to tune out. Yet for some unknown reason she then stops about several yards down the street and then turns back to look at him. She is now looking at him, really looking at him for the first time and sees a poorly, slovenly dressed child, a tiny fellow with sticks for arms and legs with dirty fingernails but his eyes are bright and there is something about him that draws her back to him. She sees his sweetness. He tells Laura he is hungry but instead of giving him money she takes him to McDonald's and they proceed to have their first meal together. Many such other meals will occur in the ensuing months and years to come.

An Invisible Thread draws you in and then you climb aboard for the ride. This book is beautifully and simply written. The story shows its readers that there exists an invisible thread that connects one human being to another and these connections can activate at any given time throughout our lives. You will enjoy this quick read about the triumph of the human spirit over adversity and tragedy. Commitment, friendship, integrity, trust, protection, fortitude and much more can be found within An Invisible Thread.
-Maria C.

The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman

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Click for availability and more information The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman, by Meg Wolitzer
 
Twelve-year-olds Duncan Dorfman, April Blunt, and Nate Saviano meet at the Youth Scrabble Tournament where, although each has a different reason for attending and for needing to win, they realize that something more important is at stake than the grand prize.
-Deirdre

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain

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Click for availability and more information The Bears on Hemlock Mountain, by Alice DalglieshNewberry Medal
 
Eight-year-old Jonathan is sent by his mother on a journey alone, up over Hemlock Mountain to borrow an iron pot. He has been told there are NO bears on Hemlock Mountain and tries hard to overcome his fears. Won Newbery Honor Award in 1953.
-Deirdre

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