March 1

Burlesque – Cher, Christina Aquilara

Ali, a small-town girl with a big voice, escapes hardship to follow her dreams to L.A. After stumbling upon the Burlesque Lounge, a majestic but ailing theater that is home to an inspired musical revue, Ali lands a job from the club’s proprietor and headliner. After Ali finally makes her way from the bar to the stage, things take a dramatic turn when her larger-than-life voice causes a charismatic entrepreneur to make an enticing proposal.

127 hours – James Franco

The powerfully uplifting true story of one man’s struggle to survive against mountainous odds. Aron Ralston has a passion for all things outdoors. But when a falling boulder traps him in a remote Utah canyon, a thrill-seeker’s adventure becomes the challenge of a lifetime. Over the next five days, Ralston embarks on a remarkable personal journey in which he relies on the memories of family and friends as well as his own courage and ingenuity to turn adversity into triumph!

March 8

Morning Glory – Rachael McAdams, Harrison Ford

For Becky, running a TV show in New York City was the big break she dreamed of, until star co-anchors Mike and Colleen declare an all-out, on-air war. Making the show work with its cast of eccentric characters and outrageous story angles will take a major miracle, but Becky is ready to rise and outshine.

Next Three Days – Russell Crowe, Olivia Wilde

Life seems perfect for John Brennan until his wife, Lara, is arrested for a murder she says she didn’t commit. Three years into her sentence, John is struggling to hold his family together, raising their son and teaching at college while he pursues every means available to prove her innocence. With the rejection of their final appeal, Lara becomes suicidal and John decides there is only one possible solution: to break his wife out of prison.

March 15

The Fighter – Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams

Micky Ward is a struggling boxer long overshadowed by his older brother and trainer, Dicky, a local legend battling his own demons. Their explosive relationship threatens to take them both down. However, the bond of blood may be their only chance to redeem their pasts and, at last, give their hard-luck town what it’s been waiting for: pride.

March 22

The Tourist – Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie

During an impromptu trip to Europe to mend a broken heart, Frank unexpectedly finds himself in a flirtatious encounter with Elise, an extraordinary woman who deliberately crosses his path. Against the breathtaking backdrop of Paris and Venice, their whirlwind romance quickly evolves as they find themselves unwittingly thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Yogi Bear – Voices of Dan Aykroyd, Justin Timberlake

Everyone’s favorite pic-a-nic basket-stealing bear brings his meal-mooching ways to movies in this live-action/CG-animated adventure. Jellystone has been losing business, so conniving Mayor Brown has decided to shut it down and sell the land. Faced with the loss of his home, Yogi must prove he really is ‘smarter than the average bear’ as he and Boo Boo join forces with Ranger Smith to find a way to save the park from closing forever.

March 29

Tangled – Voices of Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi

When the kingdom’s most wanted bandit, Flynn Rider, hides in a mysterious tower, the last thing he expects to find is Rapunzel, a spirited teen with an unlikely superpower: 70 feet of magical golden hair! Together, the unlikely duo sets off on a fantastic journey filled with surprising heroes, laughter, and suspense.

Black Swan – Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis

A psychological thriller set in the world of New York City ballet. An insecure ballet dancer wins the lead in Swan Lake but slowly loses her grip on sanity when a seductive newcomer is out to steal her role.

Mad Men – Season 4 – John Hamm, Elisabeth Moss

Set in 1960s New York City, Mad Men explores the glamorous and ego-driven ‘Golden Age’ of advertising, where everyone is selling something and nothing is ever what it seems. Mad Men returns for a new year rife with possibilities.

I don’t know about you, but the warmer weather we’ve been having has made me realize that “swimsuit season” will soon be upon us!  If you’re also looking for some help or motivation in getting a little toned up before it gets really hot out there, check out these titles on our “New Materials” shelves. 

Pilates Practice Companion is a beautiful book with tons of color photograhps.  The book has several different sections featuring exercises at different levels: beginning, intermediate and advanced, as well as other chapters, such as “Maturing with Pilates.”  It also has two-page spreads with 15, 30 or 45-minute routines which would certainly simplify any home workout.  Another advantage is that it also shows photographs of “common faults.”  When I first starting taking Pilates classes, the instructor would come around and correct our form.  Often I thought I was doing a move correctly, only to have her alter my position by what seemed like an inch or less, taking me from “oh, this is okay” to “ohmygosh this is hard!”  A final plus is that the author, Alycea Ungaro, is well-known in her field, having written several books on the subject as well as having trained many celebrity clients, such as Madonna.

Full Body Flexibilty by Jay Blahnick is another great book whose message is enhanced with wonderful photos.   Our staff is now doing stretching exercises at work each day (just for a few minutes) but those interested in taking it to the next level would be well-served by this resource.  One feature that’s particularly useful is that the stretches are divided by different sections of the body.  So, for example, if you had back or hip problems, you could concentrate on those stretches.  I think this book will prove popular:  I had it out at a public desk while working on this blog and a patron asked if she could check it out.  Absolutely.  That’s what we’re all about!

If you are a big fan of  scary movies, you should definitely check out  Paranormal Activity.   I saw the commercials, which were especially creepy and scary, and when a copy was available at the library I hesitated at first, but then decided to watch it.  I am glad that I didn’t watch it alone! 

A young couple, Katie and Micah, move into a new home near San Diego and are wary of strange sounds and activity in the middle of the night.  Trying to  figure out what is exactly happening when they are asleep, Micah sets up a video camera to capture what goes bump in the night.  Much of what the viewer sees is through the eyes of the camera.  The events start out small – unexplained footsteps and doors closing themselves.  But, as time goes on more ominus things start to happen to the couple.  By the end of the movie the paranormal happenings escalate so much, you have no idea what is next and the ending is definitely shocking.  The DVD contains an alternative ending which is worth watching too.  

I am normally not a fan of horror films, but Paranormal Activity was a fun watch and scary movie.  I checked out Paranormal Activity 2 which is a prequel to this movie that was just released and I will blog about it soon!

Emmett Conn is now a fully-Americanized 92-year-old man living in Georgia in The Gendarme.  But his story fades back in forth in time, to when he was still Ahmet Khan, a 17 year old Turk charged with deporting a large group of Armenians from Turkey to Syria at the start of World War I.  Emmett has recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor; it is unclear whether the tumor of the medications used to treat it are causing him to have vivid, sometimes terrifying dreams.  Or perhaps these dreams are the truthful but shocking memories of a past he has long forgotten?

A central figure in Emmett’s dreams is the beautiful Araxie, one of the Armenian refugees who first captivates him by her unique appearance, but with whom he later becomes obsessed.  He is determined to protect her — indeeed the odds are stacked against her.  The conditions in the refugee camps are abysmal; food and water are scarce and many die from dysentery.  Of the original 2000 deportees, possibly only fifty are expected to make it alive to Aleppo.

It is an alarming fact of history that these forced death treks occurred.  But more alarming is that so few people know about it, and I include myself in that group.  Initially, I felt guilty about my ignorance, but these feelings were somewhat assuaged when the author (Mark Mustian, who is of Armenian descent) stated that he himself had not heard of the atrocity until well into his thirties.  Indeed, even the World Book Encyclopedia barely mentions it.  I quote: “The campaign reached a peak during World War I.  By 1918 about 1,800,000 Armenians had been murdered and thousands more had fled to other countries.”

This was a fascinating book with a little something for everyone — adventure, danger, romance, much of it in an exotic setting.  Even the secondary characters, such as Emmett’s daughter, Violet, were multi-dimensional.  Still, I think the best part of the book was how the author almost subliminally imparts a deeper message of peace and forgiveness, about how love can transcend race, religion and politics.

Neil Gaiman’s fairy tale novel Stardust is a charming story of love and adventure.  Tristran Thorn is a young man who has for years pined away after the most beautiful girl in the village of Wall, Victoria Forester.  One night Tristran bravely asks to kiss her, and though she refuses, she tells him that she will fullfill his greatest desire if he can bring her the falling star they just saw.  Tristran at once sets off on this journey, which starts with the forbidden action of leaving Wall and venturing into Faerie, a realm filled with creatures and magic Tristran never imagined.  Little does Tristran know he has been to Faerie before, and on the course of his adventure he will learn shocking truths about his heritage, as well as what it means to find true love.

This book was an absolute joy to read.  It has a little bit of something for everyone: romance, action, adventure, humor, and so much more.  There are a lot of storylines that don’t initally seem to be related (Tristran’s journey to find the star, an old witch looking to restore her youth, brothers fighting over who will rule their kingdom now that their father has passed, and a woman selling glass flowers at the local faerie market), but they all come together beautifully in the end.  Gaiman does a lovely job of crafting a new and unique world, and the details really make both Wall and Faerie come alive.  I recommend Stardust to anyone who loved fairy tales in their youth, because Gaiman has done a great job at creating one for grown-ups.

Looking for a good mystery?  We’ve got you covered!

Besides having one of the best website names ever, Stop, You’re Killing Me! is the best place to go if you’re a fan of mystery, crime, suspense, thriller and spy novels. Indexing the works of over 3.500 authors, you’ll find lists of books set in specific locations, during historical time periods, by diversity (for instance, Native Americans or Gypsies or Disabled detectives), by job title (such as wedding planners or pet sitters) and genres (vampires anyone?) New titles are listed each month, including new Large Print and new Audio Books. And there are extensive lists of mystery book award nominees and winners.

This site is fairly minimal – no fancy graphics or distracting ads. Titles are linked to for further information (and where you can find a picture of the book cover), but this is mostly a presentation of lists, brief descriptions and links. It’s up to you to uncover your next favorite mystery – and with these tools, it should be an open and shut case!

Good Mood Food, a cookbook by Donal SkehanHave you been languishing waiting for Ireland to produce a chef as healthy and good-looking as Jaime Oliver? FINALLY that wait is over! Let me introduce you to the young, Irish chef/blogger Donal Skehan, aka “Ireland’s answer to Jaime Oliver” (as stated on the cookbook’s cover), who appears to be an expert at creating simple and cozy recipes that make me want to curl up in a country cottage and watch him cook for me. Just kidding! Actually, Good Mood Food is one of the few cookbooks that actually made me want to cook. I do not usually enjoy cooking, and probably only checked out this cookbook because I liked the rhyming words in the title, but within a few days of having the book on my kitchen table I discovered I had made Perfect Parmesan Parsnips! What happened?! I just don’t do things like that! Soon afterwards I found a Bacon Avocado and Sundried Tomato Sandwich in my hands. The recipes are so easy and the photographs so lovely that I couldn’t resist. Yup, this Donal Skehan guy is good. Check out his blog at:

Have you caught it yet?

We finally received the 1040 Instructions at the Davenport Public libraries, for which the phone has been ringing nearly continuously.

Due to 11th-hour filibustering at the end of the legislative session, the IRS had to edit/print paper tax publications and reprogram the computer processing systems.   Do not expect leniency on getting your return in, however.  E-filing will begin in mid to late February and the deadline stands at April 18th.

If you didn’t receive a print publication in the mail this year, it may be because you didn’t paper file last year.  The cost-cutting measure saved millions of dollars in postage and paper stock, albeit with some confusion.

Outside of the IRS office, libraries are the only place where you can get forms if for some reason you still haven’t attempted filing online.  Though a slower and typically less-accurate process, some people prefer the paper method.

Would you rather have a romantic night at home for Valentine’s Day instead of going out in the cold?  Check out any of these romantic movies at the library for the perfect Valentine’s Day date!

Casablanca – The timeless story of a nightclub owner and the one who got away back in World War II.

The Notebook – One of my favorites!  An elderly gentleman tells the story of a summer romance between two teens.

Love Actually – Intertwining stories about Brits in love.  Funny, heartwarming, and heartbreaking all at once.  A modern classic.

Pride and Prejudice – The classic novel brought to life with Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennett, falling in love where she least expected it.  I can’t count how many times I’ve seen this one.

When Harry Met Sally – Can a man and a woman just be friends?  That’s the question at the heart of this iconic rom-com starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal.

Shakespeare in Love – The fictionalized story of a young Shakespeare who, while suffering from writer’s block, finds love with beautiful actress Viola.

Dirty Dancing – Because let’s face it, we’ve all imagined ourselves doing that dance at the end.

Now it’s your turn – what’s your favorite romantic movie?

Here is almost 70 years of history one cookie at a time. The editors of Gourmet magazine (which recently ceased publication) went through their vast files of cookie recipes and chose one “best” cookie for each year, 1941-2009. The result is The Gourmet Cookie Book, a treasure trove not just of recipes, but as a reflection of our history.

Presented year by year, it is remarkably easy – and fun – to watch how recipes and baking have changed over the years. Early recipes are much more casual than what you may be used to now  with instructions like “bake in a moderate oven until done” or “add flour until stiff”, indicating that they assumed that the reader was an experienced cook;  more recent recipes give precise measurements and directions.

The style of recipes has also changed – early on, they are written in an almost conversational style, in paragraph form very different from the now standard list of ingredients followed by mixing instructions. Each recipe is presented as it originally appeared in the magazine but never fear – added notes take the guesswork out of anything that might be unclear.

It’s also interesting to track the trends and interests of the country through the years. The 40s reflect the lean years of wartime shortages and food rationing – cookies are simple and plain, using few ingredients. Recipes became more daring in the 60s with many international flavors, the 80s were the decade of chocolate and the 90s see the introduction of espresso as a regular ingredient. The look of cookies changes through time too, from simple shapes to colorful and complex. Yet they all hold one thing in common – they’ve all stood the test of time and they all taste great.