Information, Answers & Reviews

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Fly on the WallThe teenage female protagonists of E. Lockhart's novels are funny, smart, interesting, questioning and underneath it all resilient and strong. They don't always make the best initial choices, but are willing to learn and adjust as they go. These coming-of-age novels feature a romance (or two), but not at the cost of ignoring other similar and frequently troublesome themes of any young life - parents, school, friendships and finding your niche.
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Astrid & Veronika

Astrid and VeronikaThis lovely book describes a friendship between a septuagenarian and a woman of 30. Veronika, the younger woman, has spent a lifetime moving, first accompanying her father to his foreign service assignments, then on her own to Stockholm and London before impetuously following a boyfriend to Auckland, New Zealand.
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Thirst (2009)

Thirst is the latest film from Chan-wook Park of Vengeance Trilogy fame (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance). It tells the story of a priest whose life is changed when he becomes a vampire. In the strictest sense, it is a vampire love story. However, it is a Chan-wook Park vampire love story, which means it's delightfully twisted, darkly humorous, fantastically violent, and bizarrely erotic. Yes, I do love my adverbs. If you can't overstate something, why even state it. That's what I always say. Read more »

City of Bloomington Book Review and Discussion

The HelpAs part of the City of Bloomington's Black History Month schedule of events, a review and discussion of Kathryn Stockett's The Help will be held on Saturday, February 12 at 1:00 p.m at Showers City Hall Council Chambers at 401 North Morton Street.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett details the lives of black maids in 60's Mississippi and the white women they work for. It chronicles the lives of three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women - mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends - view one another.
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Brick (2006)


Brick (2006) is a film that no matter how well you describe it, it still kind of sounds like a tacky idea and it easily could have been. A hard-boiled noir style detective film set in a modern-day high school? Hmm. But let me assure you that great care was taken with the specifics of the film that make this setup work surprisingly well. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, 500 Days of Summer) stars as Brendan, a quiet loner who acts as the gumshoe in this movie. He's lost contact with an ex-girlfriend at school who was straying into the world of drug trafficking and wants to make sure she's okay. When she turns up dead, he begins a quest for answers through the underground world of popular kids, the drama vamps and the super-smart geeks.

See? Still sounds a little tacky doesn't it? What saves the film from collapsing under the ridiculous setup is the script and the performances. The characters play the roles like they're actually in a 1940's detective film complete with rapid-fire speech and archaic slang that takes a little effort to follow. All the film noir tropes are here: the smart detective who knows how to take a punch, the bombshell who can't be trusted, the menacing kingpin and his muscle-bound henchman. This is a film that doesn't insult the viewer's intelligence and succeeds by playing the whole thing straight with nary a wink to suggest that the situations are taking place in an out-of-context environment. The plot becomes convoluted as double-crossing and lies start to twist the narrative.

This is certainly no "Disney's High School Detective" sort of film. The violence and drug content makes it clearly intended for an adult audience. It's a smart, classy and surprisingly emotional film that succeeds despite its inability to be described in a satisfying way. Definitely recommended.

The Big Bang Theory

After receiving recommendations from a number of friends for the TV show The Big Bang Theory, I decided it was finally time to check it out. I sat down to watch a couple of episodes of the first season and ended up watching six back to back. The show, a half hour comedy, features physicists, roommates, and super geniuses Sheldon and Leonard. Settled comfortably into nerddom, their lives are interrupted with the arrival of a new neighbor, a blond waitress named Penny. Leonard, the more social of the two, is immediately interested, but Sheldon is taken aback and does not welcome Penny's intrusion into his ordered existence. Also featuring engineer friends Howard (ultimate nerd and wannabe ladies' man) and Raj (unable to even talk to women), The Big Bang Theory is hilarious. For its over-the-top but still believable characters and laugh out loud situations (such as when all four guys end up dressing as The Flash for Halloween), I highly recommend this show.

3D or not to 3D

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A while back I posted an article on this blog called "In Praise of Black and White." In it I mentioned that the invention of color film brought about a number of films that focused on color shock effects and explosions rather than focusing on the story. I believe that many of the films made today would not seem as good to us if we were forced to watch them in black and white. Today we have a rise in another new gimmick format called 3D. Read more »

February's Books Plus: Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching GodAs cold winter winds swirl around us, join us at the library on Feb. 6th where we'll travel to sunny Florida to explore Zora Neale Hurston's evocative world. Alice Walker remarked that "no book was more important to her" than Their Eyes Were Watching God. As always we'll offer hot drinks, Amal's delicious cake, and an outlet for your stimulating conversation. Hope to see you here.

For more information on 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. No registration necessary. Drop in.
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From Book to Movie to Award Nomination

Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceWhere does Hollywood get many of their ideas? Comic books? Yes. TV shows from the 1970s? *Sigh* - yes. But also from books! Real books! This year's Academy Award nominations were announced this week, including 5 films for Best Adapted Screen Play - 4 of which are based on books. The fifth film, Toy Story 3 is based on a original treatment of the first movie (or something).

If you liked these movies - you might try the original too! I know I am adding several of these to my to-read list.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston
This memoir is the basis for Danny Boyle's film 127 Hours and tells the amazing true story of a hiker who had to make a terrible decision after being trapped and injured alone in the desert for over five days. As a sometimes solo hiker, I am intrigued by this story. Both movie and book are on my list.
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Let's Take the Long Way Home

Let's Take the Long Way HomeWhat an incredibly moving testament to women's friendship. Two Boston area writers who met at a reading but only came to know each other when they were raising puppies at the same time and their dog trainer suggested that they would hit it off.

Caroline was a rower and essayist; Gail, a swimmer and book critic. Both were determined, competitive, tough, and shy. One of Gail's friends nicknamed her "the gregarious hermit." Caroline's dog was a shepherd mix. Gail finally adopted the pristine white samoyed she had always longed for. Caroline stayed in the Cambridge area where she had grown up, while Gail had left her beloved high-country Texas although she still pined for it.
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