Serving Life (DVD) is probably one of the best documentaries I have watched in a long, long time. The title is deceptive, because the movie is based in a Louisiana state prison. It follows four men who have committed serious crimes and are serving life sentences, some without hope of parole. At first you think the film is going to focus strictly on their adjustment to prison life – until you see the hospice ward in the prison, set up for prisoners who are terminally ill. The four men apply to be volunteers in this hospice unit and the title “serving life” takes on an entirely different dimension. I never dreamt I would be moved to tears watching a documentary set in a prison – I challenge you to stay dry-eyed watching this one. This would make a challenging subject of discussion for church groups and film discussion gatherings.
“You are a piglet, deal with it.” This is what Liam is always being told by his brother and sister in the new book, Piggy Bunny. Liam is a piglet who dreams of being the Easter Bunny. His parents love him, support him, and tell him he is perfect just the way he is. ‘Just the way he is’ is a piglet who wants to be the Easter Bunny. No matter how much the other piglets laugh at him and tell him they don’t believe in the Easter Bunny, Liam knows that one day, if he practices hard enough, he will become what he knows he is supposed to be. In the end, a gift from Grandma finally lets Liam become someone everyone can believe in.
This is an excellent book about acceptance and being yourself. The light-hearted story-telling style teaches without preaching and makes the piggy characters real and relatable. This is a story every child should read.
When I was in elementary school I considered myself a pretty good athlete, after all I was the second fastest kid, the second farthest thrower, the second hardest kicker, second most accurate basketball shooter and I was pretty good at football. As far as football goes, I went to every Cincinnati Bengals home game and grew up looking up to those monstrously huge men. Residing in Norwood, at the time, the only guy I knew of that made it to the NFL or any professional sport from my hometown was Brian Pillman, but he never made it past a pro training camp. He did, however, make it as a professional wrestler.
As a six year old, watching those NFL games, I knew I didn’t want to be hit that hard, by anybody, thus, I turned my attentions toward baseball and soccer, after all I wasn’t even the best athlete in my grade, I was second. The best athlete in my grade, the guy that was first in all those categories did make it in the NFL. Not only that, he won the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. Even as a young kid I knew my friend Marc Edwards would make it in football someday. Not only did he have tools and the talent but he had the drive and determination to rise up out of blue collar Norwood. The book Odyssey : from Blue Collar, Ohio to Super Bowl champion by Aaron M. Smith is about Mr. Edwards and chronicles what it takes to make it to the professional level in athletics and compete. He battled through some of the same adversity we all have. Nothing was handed to him, he knew what he wanted and worked to make his goal.
Even though he had talent, it still takes hard work to make it in any industry and Marc is evidence of that. This story is not about being a professional athlete it is about being the best person you can. Mr. Edwards’ odyssey should give inspiration to us all. Find your talent and work to make your goals.
Read the book.
I really love the old hymns that we sing in worship service. There is something very special about the familiar and comforting phrases and tunes. The Southern Gospel sound is a lot of fun too, but recently I’ve really been enjoying the more contemporary sound of Christian Worship music.
We Cry Out: The Worship Project by Jeremy Camp brought a little bit of the Sunday morning sound to my car and home. Jeremy combines the Message with a modern sound and beat, with songs that will appeal to both an older and younger audience.
Chris Tomlin is a new favorite artist after listening to a few tracks of How Great is our God: The Essential Collection. He is an awesome song writer and his album is now a “must have” in my music collection.
Wow hits 2012 featured several new favorites too. Glorious Day by Casting Crowns was most enjoyable. The group took an old gospel favorite and mixed it up for a wonderful sound that really was terrific. The CD had several artists I had never heard before, and it was a good way to get a feel of what is popular in the genre.
Next time you are feeling a little down, maybe give one of these albums a try. It might be a way to “bring the joy!”
Join Bad Kitty in her newest adventure Bad Kitty For President.
Bad Kitty has had it with the stray cats in her neighborhood! She decides to run for president of the Neighborhood Cat Club to enact legislation to put a stop to those darn cats and their wayward behavior. Kitty learns about the election process from Uncle Murray, all the while making almost every mistake in the book. Will Kitty become president, or fall pray to her “Bad Kitty” ways once again? The fast paced nature of this book will appeal to both boys and girls and will keep them interested until the very end. Even the glossary is written in a way to keep the kids reading.
This book is suggested for kids aged 7-10, though it would definitely be informative for older kids as well (and even some adults, too!). While some of the political satire may go a little over the heads of younger readers, the non-stop laughs is enough to keep even the most reluctant reader entertained.
The excitement and hype is really building for the Hunger Games Movie release March 23, 2012. After practically devouring the Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay, I find myself looking for other dystopian type books to hold me over until the movie comes out in March.
Matched by Ally Condie was a good read for my dystopian mood. The book begins with Cassia looking forward to attending her “Match Banquet”. An event when seventeen year olds find out whom the Society has chosen for them to marry and be their lifelong partner. When a technical glitch occurs and another young man flashes on her matching screen before the Society choice appears, Cassia begins for the first time in her life to question the Society decisions. If a mistake could be made by them, would it be so bad for Cassia to make some choices of her own? Could she pick a better career choice, a place to live, even a future spouse?
Cassia soon learns that freedom of choice has no place in the Society. Mistakes in the eyes of the government are not easily forgiven, and perfection and freedom are not always the same. But Cassia seems to be drawn down a path that she can’t abandon, no matter what cost to her and her family.
Crossed, the second book in the Matched series is now available, and on my “Next Read” list.
As the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic approaches, there will be many commemorative books released and events scheduled. (Director James Cameron is releasing a 3D version of his prize-winning film, Titanic, starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet on April 6.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVrqfYjkTdQ
If you are interested in focusing on this tragic event for your book club this spring, I can think of no better title to recommend than Allan Wolf’s The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices From the Titanic. This work of fiction reads like a spellbinding work of non-fiction, history and poetry all in one.
The tale of the maiden voyage is told through the voices of over a dozen passengers, crew members, a ship’s rat and even the fateful iceberg itself. Each voice tells its story for a page or two, from the construction of the ship, to its departure and the voyage where it met its destiny:
My name is John Snow.
You could say that my living is death.
I am the undertaker.
I have come for the bodies.
(John Snow the Undertaker)
The Millionaire thinks Titanic is a ship of pleasure.
The Immigrant thinks the Titanic is a ship of dreams.
But they are both wrong. For Titanic is not a ship at all.
Titanic is just good business. Very good business.
(Bruce Ismay the Businessman)
I am the Ice. I see tides ebb and flow.
I’ve watched civilizations come and go,
give birth, destroy, restore, be gone, begin …
now that my emergence is complete, there is a certain ship I
long to meet …
You see, Titanic, like a beehive, is constructed of cells…
if one cell was to flood, the water could be contained in that compartment alone.
In fact, four cells could be flooded all at once and still Titanic would not flounder.
The odds of a breach in five compartments at once…
Well, I’m not a gambling man, especially when lives are at stake,
but if I did make the bet, I daresay I’d be set for life.
(Thomas Andrews, Titanic Shipbuilder)
I see, then, a blackness in the blackness,
a certain solid quality to the night
that makes me shake my head.
a whale? a rock? a derelict ship?
Still a ways off. Something small.
No. Bigger. Closer. Growing larger
with every passing second …
“Iceberg,” I say.
“Iceberg, straight ahead!”
(Frederick Fleet, The Lookout)
This is one of those books that you will sacrifice sleep to finish, even though you already know how the story ends. Don’t skip the Author’s Note at the end of the book – it is filled with over 20 pages of fascinating facts about the ship and its passengers that you may never have heard before!
Boomerang is perfect for any one trying to get a handle on the financial crises among several European countries. Michael Lewis, author of several other well known nonfiction titles such as Moneyball and The Blind Side, explains how three countries – Iceland, Ireland and Greece – came to create financial meltdowns in their economies. The explanations are relatively simple to understand and the author leaves you wondering if the United States will someday suffer a similar fate. At 213 pages, it’s a quick way to educate yourself on one of the hottest financial topics of the day!
It’s 2 AM and really, I should have been asleep 4 hours ago. When I get to work in the morning it’s a guarantee that I’ll look like death warmed over. My co-workers, being the sweet, caring individuals that they are will ask if perhaps I was bitten by a zombie. And I’ll have to lie to them, because there is NO way that I would admit to spending 6 hours reading a book about steamy alien love triangles.
I’ve got a confession.
I’ve got a fiction addiction. And not just any fiction, not classy literary fiction or engrossing mysteries or even epic fantasies. I’ve developed an addiction to the fluffiest of paperback romance. Bodice ripping historical romance with vikings and highlanders. Steampunk epics with surly mechanical dukes. Or, this month, my new favorite, hunky extraterrestrials in love with spunky Earth girls.
When I first saw Gina Koch’s ‘Katherine ‘Kitty’ Katt’ novels I laughed. A lot. And then months later I was stuck home sick with nothing to read but the meager offerings of my sister’s book shelf. Given the option between War and Peace and Touched by an Alien there was no question as to which direction my day was taking.
Cheesy title and bizarre cover art aside, I loved it. LOVED it. Just the right amount of humor, action, romance and general ridiculousness to compliment a head cold and two shots of NyQuil. A take action, think later heroine and a tough but sensitive, wisecracking alien fight Big Fugly aliens for the survival of Earth, using their brains, heavy explosives and an extra loud iPod. Sold.
I won’t give away the plot but I’m already on book 3 of (so far) 4 book series with no intention of sleeping any time soon. And you know what? I’m not going to be guilty about my guilty pleasure anymore. I like books, allllllll kinds of books, and sometimes I just need the sort of mental break that only trashy romance can provide!
2011 was an awesome year for music. Artists from all genres released amazing works, and while we didn’t get around to listening to all of them, we like to think that these choices are the best of what the Library has to offer. In case you missed some, here are our favorite albums of 2011 (and if you loved something you got at the library this year and don’t see it on the list, tell us what in the comments!)
Florence + the Machine- Ceremonials This sophomore album from the ever magical Flo is chock full of romance, heartbreak and enough overwhelming vocals to please any fan. Try listening to ‘What The Water Gave Me,’ it and the rest of the album just prove, once again, that Florence IS a machine.
The Decemberists- The King is Dead Maybe its Colin Meloy’s exquisite vocabulary that speaks to the librarian in me, or maybe the roots-rock free for all sound, but this album stands apart from previous offerings as my favorite. And since that wasn’t sweet enough as it is, later in the year The Decemberists gave us Long Live the King; short and sweet, this mostly-acoustic love letter to Americana is a follow up to The King is Dead and the cherry on top of The Decemberists amazing year. Check out the awesome cover of Grateful Dead’s ‘Row Jimmy.’
The Civil Wars- Barton Hollow Say what you will about the growing popularity of duet acts, The Civil Wars’ inspired debut album crushes them all. With astounding, soulful harmonies and a folksy, southern blues sound, this (surprisingly unmarried) duo have taken the music world and my stereo by storm. For the full, goose-bump raising effect try the title track, ‘Barton Hollow.’
The Foo Fighters- Wasting Light Dave Grohl and the boys unleashed their rock might upon the world with Wasting Light, and the Rock Gods approved. No need to fast forward, just start at track one, ‘Bridge Burning,’ and listen until the end.
Adele- 21 With her retro-soulful style, astounding vocals and deeply moving lyrics Adele’s sophomore album is a heartbreaking testament to the creative power of love and loss. For a full shot of emotions and powerful sound try starting with ‘Rumour Has It.’
Rave on Buddy Holly A tribute CD of epic proportions, this homage to the Father of Rock released on what would have been his 75th birthday features offerings from a diverse and amazing range of talents. From Paul McCartney and Lou Reed to The Black Keys, She and Him, Cee Lo Green and Modest Mouse, the 19 tracks of this album prove that good music is timeless, and that rock ‘n’ roll is here to stay.
Ryan Adams- Ashes & Fire Adams makes his triumphant return to the land of new music with this personal, introspective album. Follow Mr. Adams into each song as he takes you on a ride through life as he sees it. Stay tuned till the final song, entitled ‘I Love You but I Don’t Know What to Say,’ a problem that everyone has run into in their life at some point.
Muppets: The Green Album Featuring artists from all parts of the music world this album proves what I’ve always known; The Muppets are the root of all good in the world. My Morning Jacket, Rachael Yamagata, Amy Lee, The Fray, Matt Nathanson and Weezer are just a few of those who take on the classic songs of our Muppet-fueled youth and breathe new life into them. For a taste try Ok Go’s strange and awesome rendition of ‘Muppet Show Theme Song,‘ or Andrew Bird’s touching version of ‘Bein’ Green.‘
Fleet Foxes- Helplessness Blues Fleet Foxes’ second album builds on the original sound they created for their debut. They continue to blend a harmony of voices while maintaining the beautiful rhythm that is their signature. They create an aura of sound that the ears really DO appreciate.
The Black Keys- El Camino A late comer to 2011’s best of list (I only managed to get an copy and listen to it last night), The Black Keys 7th album was well worth the wait. Running their own line somewhere between and beyond roots and glam rock, the guys cut loose with good, old fashion rock ’n’ roll that is reminiscent of the very best names in 60’s, 70’s and 80’s classic rock. If you’re a sucker for songs with hand-claps (and, oh, am I ever!) try listening to ‘Gold on the Ceiling.’
Gregg Allman- Low Country Blues Allman’s first record release since 2003 is a triumph of American blues sound. Built of heartfelt covers of vintage blues, the warm sound of Allman’s voice is full of down-home heartache just begging to be shared. Take a listen to the only new song on the album, ‘Just Another Rider,’ a clear sequel to the Allman Brothers’ ‘Midnight Rider’ for a try of this fantastic album.
Drive-by Truckers- Go-go Boots Drive-by Truckers continue to make great guitar driven, southern rock/country by combining great storytelling with a melody. All the tracks are great but start with ‘Used to be a Cop,’ and ‘Thanksgiving Filter,’ to gain a full appreciation.
Hugh Laurie- Let Them Talk Anyone who has watched House, M.D. over the years is aware that Hugh Laurie has a secret talent when it comes to music, but the BBC darling pulled out all the stops on his debut solo album. Being British hasn’t diminished his love of traditional blues and Let Them Talk is a homage to the music he loves. Listen to ‘Swanee River’ for a taste of Laurie’s piano driven flavor.
Mat Kearney-Young Love One of the rare albums this year which could easily play on repeat for the rest of my life, Young Love is the foot tapping 3rd CD from Kearney. Combining a mountain of singer/songwriter talent with a percussive, crowd pleasing pop sound this CD is the best of ALL worlds. I dare you not to sing and dance your way through ‘Hey Mama.
Laura is your friendly neighborhood Reference Guru and Eric works as a Super Library Assistant. You can visit Laura at the new Union Township Branch and Eric at the Amelia Branch.