Kentucky native Emma Guthrie has just lost her film scholarship to a prestigous New York university and now she is in desperate need of work in Katie Lee’s fiction debut, Groundswell.    After sending out dozens of resumes for any and every job in the film industry, she receives a surprise email from a production company asking her to report to work in the morning as a temporary production assistant for the upcoming summer blockbuster.  Little does Emma know that this small event will completely change her life. 

As a jack of all trades on the set, one day her assigned task is to deliver lunch to the star of the movie, Garrett Walker.  From their first meeting, he is smitten.  After tentatively accepting a date with the known womanizer, Emma becomes the girlfriend of one of the biggest movie stars in the world.  She quickly becomes accustomed to the life of luxury, but after a quick engagement and secret, paparazzi-free wedding, she begins to long for a career of her own.  With some film experience under her belt from her college days, she writes a fictionalized story of her life, Fame Tax, which becomes the summer’s biggest romantic comedy. 

Without any warning, Emma is betrayed and her marriage is hanging by a thread.  Needing a break from the circus-like atmosphere revolving around her, she escapes to a small, sleepy village in Mexico where she meets, Ben, a surf instructor who teaches her both how to surf and how the smallest events in life can eventually lead to the greatest rewards.

 

The Paris of World War II comes to life again in Lynn Sheene’s The Last Time I Saw Paris, as seen through the eyes of an American ex-pat searching to find her own place in the world.

Manhattan socialite Claire Harris has secrets to hide; when those secrets threaten to expose her, she escapes her glittering cage for Paris and the promises made by a summer fling. However, instead of lavish parties and luxury, she arrives in Paris just as the Germans approach, bringing war and depravation, fear and cruelty. Claire stays, scrambling to survive, making friends, finding a place in a world suddenly turned upside down. When her papers expire, she makes a deal with the Resistance, providing information about the Germans in exchange for forged documents.

Sheene keeps the tension high and the action moving briskly. The terror of living under Nazi rule is shown as harsh and random, the fear of not knowing who to trust is vivid. People are realistically portrayed – Claire is a reluctant freedom fighter, only gradually leaving her shallow dreams behind for the good of others; the Resistance is shown as ruthless and not above blackmail; and the ordinary citizen is often simply struggling to survive. This is a quick read – it’s hard to put it down when you can’t wait to find out what will happen!

One of my all-time favorite shows that was canceled too soon, Veronica Mars deserved to go on much longer than three seasons.  The show is about high school student Veronica Mars, who juggles classes with working at Mars Investigations, her father Keith’s private detective agency.    Keith Mars used to be the sheriff of Neptune, California until scandal hit the small town: Veronica’s best friend, rich and beautiful Lily Kane, was murdered.  After Keith accused Lily’s father, powerful businessman Jake Kane, Keith was removed from office and he and Veronica became the town outcasts.  Veronica and her dad work together to solve a different mystery every week at Mars Investigations, but the two work all season long to discover what really happened to Lily Kane and bring the killer to justice.

If you like mystery, drama, and intrigue, you’ll love this show.  Yes it’s about high school, but it has a film noir feel to it and is pretty serious as opposed to a typical teen show.  There is, however, plenty of humor involved; Veronica has a very snarky sense of humor that really appeals to me.  And of course, there’s a love story, as Veronica used to date Lily’s brother Duncan until he mysteriously broke up with her before Lily’s murder.  But one of my favorite things about the show was the relationship between Veronica and her dad.  It was just the two of them after Veronica’s mom skipped town, and they have one of those amazing father-daughter relationships that every viewer has to be jealous of.  I highly recommend giving this show a try, it really has something for everyone!  Stop by the library today to pick up seasons one, two, and three.

Naomi Levy wrote Hope Will Find You as she was in the midst of her daughter’s health crisis. Spending much of her time in doctor’s waiting rooms, and trying to deal with the uncertainty of the diagnosis, Naomi began, unsurprisingly, to show signs of depression. She’d suspended her enjoyment of life and her career as a rabbi.

This book is a series of very short chapters that chronicle her climb out of that despair. She gains wisdom from other rabbis, mentors and, most of all, Noa, her daughter. Noa suffers from learning and physical disabilities, that may or may not be fatal. She is incredibly positive and energetic, and she is the one who actually comes up with the title.

One of Naomi’s breakthroughs is a realization that she can’t let her fear of the unknown destroy the happiness she can enjoy with her family and friends now. As Naomi lets go of her crippling fear, she is able to go back to work and even starts a new congregation.

Not only is her story inspirational, the book is a fascinating glimpse into Judaism and the Jewish principles of faith.

For a fun and scandalous look into the history of royal matches, pick up Leslie Carroll’s Notorious Royal Marriages: A Juicy Journey Through Nine Centuries of Dynasty, Destiny and Desire.  Carroll covers a long history of royal marriages beginning with Eleanor of Aquitaine in the Middle Ages and ending with the divorce of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.   A few of the gems in Notorious Royal Marriages include:

*King Henry VIII’s six marriages in which he had two wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, beheaded;

*Emperor Franz Joseph and his cousin bride Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) of Austria whose marriage started out with promise but became cold and impersonal after the tragic death of two of their children and her eating disorder;

*Tsar Nicholas and Tsarina Alexandra of Russia whose love story ended when they and their five children were killed during the Russian Revolution;

*British ruler King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson’s marriage in which the ruling monarch gave up the British crown to marry the twice divorced American.

Each couple has their own chapter so it is easy to for you to skip around the book easily, too.  You may think you know many of these stories, but Carroll adds new information that makes it difficult to put the book down!

 

 

The neverending debate of “which is better, the book or the movie?” continues with the recent release of the movie The Help. Based on Kathryn Stockett’s bestselling novel, the movie has a lot to live up to.

Published in 2009, The Help received excellent reviews but started off fairly quietly. It soon became a sleeper hit – it’s been on the New York Times bestseller list for over 100 weeks and is easily the most requested title at the library these days.

The novel is told from the the point-of-view of three narrators relating the story of African-American maids working for white families in the Jackson, Mississippi in 1962. The characters are real and complex, their stories are heartbreaking and funny, and the dangers they face are life threatening. I read the book before it really took off and blogged about it here. It’s still one of my favorite books.

The movie opened just last week and stars Viola Davis, Emma Stone and Octavia Spencer. There has been a fair amount of controversy about the making of this movie – Stockett’s longtime best friend Tate Taylor adapted and directed the film, even though he has directed only a couple of small films previously; there was talk that he wouldn’t be able to handle a big, important movie. Never fear, the movie is beautifully done with several Oscar-worthy performances, and settings that  transport you to the Deep South of the 1960s. Just like the book, you’ll laugh and cry and be inspired by these courageous women. (Although the movie is several months from coming out on DVD, you can be assured that the Davenport Library will purchase multiple copies when it’s available!)

My recommendation? Read the book AND see the movie.

Project Runway is finally back on (although, stilts? really?) and summer is winding down and heading toward fall – it’s the perfect time to take stock of your wardrobe and make some updates. Need some help? Try these for inspiration.

Wear This, Toss That! by Amy Goodman. It’s fun to go through the pictures, comparing the “wear” with the “toss” (and sometimes cringing because you know you have a few “toss” items in your closet right now!) and figuring out why Goodman makes the recommendations she does. It’s a good education on learning how to recognize flattering styles for the average woman.

What I Wore by Jessica Quirk. To be honest, I like Jessica’s blog better than her new book, but you’ll still pick up lots of ideas here. I especially appreciate the styling – young and fresh without being out-of-touch or stupidly expensive. In fact, Jessica makes it a point to be able to use her clothes in multiple outfits and frequently gets her clothes from thrift stores and major retailers like Target. Fun and energetic and addictive (and be sure to check out the blog!)

Easy Closets by Joe Provey. Now that you’ve got your wardrobe shaped up, get your closet in prime condition. After all, if you can’t lay your hands on that perfect white blouse, it’s not going to do you much good. Easy Closets has lots of ideas for the perfect arrangement, covering everyone in the family and even the kitchen and garage. Neat and tidy.

Be sure to read Lynn’s first impressions of this book here!

I’d have to say this didn’t sustain it’s promise. Not a short book (436 pages),  To Be Sung Underwater peters out and gets repetitious. The romance between Judith and Willy, Judith’s present-day career problems, her relationship with her husband and daughter…. all these plot strands show promise and you wonder what’s going to happen, but there’s no real payoff for investing so much time in them.

McNeal has a few literary ticks – he repeats adjectives again and again: the “flutish” sound of the wind, as well as portentous phrases such as “she would realize later…” or “she’d always remember such and such later…”

After a while, you realize this isn’t a book about plot; it’s a book about place. The dry, remote landscape of  northwestern Nebraska is what’s really memorable. The people who pass through it are transitory and not that important in the long run, as Willy comes to believe.

That may be true but I still felt like Judith’s story arc wasn’t completed. If you are a reader who likes resolution and closure, this may not be the book for you.

We’re lucky here in the Quad Cities to have one of the best ice cream makers in the country right on our doorstep, but there’s nothing quite as sublime as homemade ice cream – sweet and creamy, mixed to your taste with your favorite ingredients. Learn how to take your ice cream up a step into artistry with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer. You’ll never look back.

Each recipe in this book has been repeatedly tested by Jeni at home using only readily available home equipment. She shows that unique flavor combinations and creamy consistency are easily in reach. Lots of yummy pictures, friendly practical advice and personal stories make this book a pleasure to read. As well as ice cream, there are recipes for frozen yogurt and sorbets and suggestions for decadent desserts – such as a “Tuscan Sundae” made up of Salty Carmel ice cream, honey and vin santo sauce, biscotti and whipped cream.

Just reading through the names of the flavors is addicting and fun. Who could resist “Baked Alaska Pie Ice Cream”, “Watermelon Lemondae Sorbet” or “Roasted Strawberry and Buttermilk Ice Cream”. And though I think I”ll pass on the “Cucumber, Honeydew and Cayenne Frozen Yogurt”  and the “Celery Ice Cream”, call me the minute you make “The Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World”. I’ll bring my own spoon.

I recently decided to paint a couple of rooms in my house, but I have the hardest time choosing colors.  It’s just too hard to look at those little square samples and imagine what that color will look like in a whole room!  And as it turns out, the library can help with that.  We have lots of home decorating books that include painting ideas and tips.  I checked out a few, and lo and behold I found the perfect colors for my bathroom and guest bedroom.  My favorite ideas came from Home Rules: Transform The Place You Live Into A Place You Love by Nate Berkus, and Robin Strangis’s Color Idea Book.  I hate constantly using “boring” neutral colors, but I’m never sure how to add color without making the house look schizophrenic.  Luckily, both of these books helped me figure out how to make it work.

Here are a few more books we have that might help you with your latest painting project.  For more, stop in at any of our three locations and browse under the call number 747.

Design on a Dime by Amy Tincher-Durik and HGTV

Paint Can! Techniques, Patterns, and Projects for Bringing Color Into Every Room by Sunny Stack Goode

Paint Style: The New Approach to Decorative Paint Finishes by Lesley Riva

Perfect Palettes: Inspirational Color Schemes for the Home Decorator by Stephanie Hoppen and Joanna Copestick

Easy Paint Makeovers: Crackling, Leafing, Sponging, Antiquing, and More by Kass Wilson