Information, Answers & Reviews

Who's Miranda Lambert?

That is the question I asked myself when I looked at this week's top ten downloads from Freegal. Freegal posts the top ten most downloaded songs on its website. These are the songs that our library patrons want the most. This week's top download is "Mama' s Broken Heart" by Miranda Lambert.

Born in 1983, Miranda's is from Longview, Texas. Her music can best be described as "country rock". So far she has Read more »

An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science

ImageWhile most books about the Arctic or Antarctic focus on just one thing--the indomitable quest to reach one of the poles--this book has a much broader canvas--it covers the equally arduous work of making new scientific discoveries during the age of great polar exploration.

This broader canvas allows the reader to learn about biological, geological, and meteorological phenomena but also about the cost of empire. England sponsored many of these expeditions while this country held political dominion over one quarter of the world. And as the twentieth century dawned, political power was changing rapidly. Britain had lost face in the Boer Wars in Africa and needed heroism and success to bolster its image abroad and its people's faith in the government and military as Germany, France, and the United States were becoming arch competitors.

But the book is mostly about science and adventure under the most brutal conditions. At one point Scott and Shackleton dock near an ice floe and decide it's time to use a hot-air balloon to get a better view of the landscape ahead. In this totally unpeopled land, Scott rides up into the air and views the vast white expanse. For most of us, such a view would provoke sheer terror. And Scott himself was a little nervous in the little bamboo basket. I kept thinking, what if he falls out.
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The Green Mile

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Today the news is filled with stories of people who have been wrongfully imprisoned. Set in the 1930s The Green Mile tells the story of one such case. It tells the story of a large black man named John Coffey (like the drink only not spelled the same), Read more »

Is it that time of year already?

Marriage PlotIn a world of massive amounts of information, I am a sucker for top ten or best-of lists. I appreciate when someone else condenses something into a short and sweet list, something easy to scan and hopefully points you in the right direction.
November brings the earliest end-of-the-year best-of lists and both Amazon and Publisher's Weekly are some of the first to announce their top ten books of the year. Maybe not too shockingly, Amazon's list is pretty predictable with a lot of best sellers, or other books that got a lot of buzz, including debut-darling Téa Obreht, Erik Larson, and the new Steve Jobs bio.

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Desk Set

 

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It's hard to top a film team of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Although lovers in real life, their films have a chemistry that is almost electrifying. Desk Set is one of their best. Adam's Rib comes in at a very close second place, but to me Desk Set is their perfect film.

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The Best American Nonrequired Reading: 2011

Best American NonRequired ReadingForget the bland title, the latest Best American Nonrequired Reading presents a fresh, amusing, and wide-ranging compendium of last year's best nonfiction and fiction.

It's not just the writing that is fresh but the kinds of content that editor Dave Eggers chose to include are both imaginative and often cutting edge including such categories as: Best American Band Names, Best American Ominous Place Names, Best American Call of Duty Handles, Best Wikileaks Revelations, and Best American Commune Names. The reader senses not only a vibrant sense of humor (see Best American Categories that Got Cut) but someone behind the scenes who is curious, wide-reading, and always eager to learn something new. Also, someone with a great sense of humor.
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November's Books Plus and Author Visit

Miracle at St. AnnaAs the leaves turn bright orange and the cold weather returns, it feels great to curl up with a good book. Why not transport yourself back to Italy during World War II with James McBride's Miracle at St. Anna? Join us for a book discussion this coming Sunday. Also, the MCPL Friends of the Library will be hosting "An Evening with James McBride" on November 12th. If you can come to both events, that would be great. If not, we hope to see you at our Books Plus talk.

McBride, who also wrote the best-selling memoir The Color of Water about growing up in a mixed-race family, is also a jazz musician. Miracle of St. Anna tells the story of a soldier in the 92nd all-black Buffalo Division during World War II. Four of these GIs take care of a traumatized Italian boy. The book examines issues of race, war, and evil as well as the nature of love and caring.

For more details of this and future programs, please see below.
Books Plus meets the first Sunday of each month. All are welcome. Join the discussion or simply come to listen.
2 p.m., First Sundays

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Supervolcano

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Do you know where the largest "active" super volcano is located in the continental United States? It might surprise you to know it is located in Yellowstone National Park. If you walk around the park you might not notice it though you would be aware of its presence all around you seen in the hot springs and mud pits throughout the park. So why would you not notice it? It's so big that you simply cannot see it. The Yellowstone super volcano is so large that its caldera can only be seen from space. Yellowstone National Park is not just the location of the volcano, it is the volcano, and if it erupts we will say good-bye to the earth as we know it. Read more »

When god was a Rabbit

When god was a RabbitThis debut novel by Sarah Winman, a British actress, is decidedly quirky, unusual and fresh. It's also tremendously well-written and involving, and captures as few novels do, the actual feelings and experiences of childhood. The title absolutely pulled me in. Don't for a moment think it's a metaphor. No way. Little Elly, the narrator, receives a Belgian hare for Christmas and, in a family of nonbelievers, what could be more logical than naming her pet god (lower case, of course)?

When her school hosts a Christmas pageant, Elly receives audition instructions from her gay thespian aunt. The little girl secures a role but not Mary, Joseph, or the Baby Jesus. No, instead Elly plays the blind innkeeper. Unfortunately, in a horrible fiasco, she knocks over another child and sends him to the hospital.

Elly has a best friend named Jenny Penny. Her mom is a single parent with lots of visiting boyfriends. Because she has a drinking problem, Jenny joins Elly's kind but eccentric family.
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Buck

Buck is a documentary about legendary horse trainer Dan "Buck" Brannaman, the modern day horse whisperer and inspiration for both the book and film alike. His horsemanship skills are legendary because he can train a horse to do just about anything in nearly ten minutes without touching the horse.

 

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