November 1

Water for Elephants – Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson

Against all odds, a veterinary student and a beautiful circus performer from a bygone era meet and fall in love through their shared compassion for a special elephant. But their secret romance incurs the wrath of her dangerously volatile husband. Rated PG – 13

 

Cars 2

Star racecar Lightning McQueen and the incomparable tow truck Mater take their friendship on the road from Radiator Springs to exciting new places when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world’s fastest car. But the road to the championship is filled with plenty of potholes, detours, and hilarious surprises when Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage! Rated G

 

November 8

Change – up – Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds

Growing up together, Mitch and Dave were inseparable best friends, but slowly drifted apart. While Dave is an overworked lawyer, husband, and father of three, Mitch has remained a single, quasi-employed man-child. Both guys seem to think the other has it made. Following a drunken night out together, Mitch and Dave’s worlds are turned upside down when they wake up in each other’s bodies. The guys soon discover that each other’s lives are nowhere near as rosy as they once seemed. Rated R

November 15

Larry Crowne – Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts

When he suddenly finds himself without his long-standing blue-collar job, Larry Crowne enrolls at his local college to start over. There he becomes part of an eclectic community of students and develops a crush on his teacher. Now this simple guy will discover that when you think everything worth having has passed you by, you just might find your reason to live. Rated PG 13

Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides – Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush

A tale of truth, betrayal, youth, demise, and mermaids! When Jack crosses paths with a woman from his past, he’s not sure if it’s love, or if she’s a ruthless con artist using him to find the fabled Fountain of Youth. Forced aboard the ship of the most feared pirate ever, Jack doesn’t know who to fear more, Blackbeard or the woman from his past. Rated PG 13. (WILL NOT BE RELEASED TO LIBRARY UNTIL DECEMBER 9)

November 22

Sarah’s Key – Kristin Scott Thomas

In modern-day Paris, a journalist finds her life becoming entwined with a young girl whose family was torn apart during the notorious Vel d’Hiv roundup, which took place in Paris, in 1942. She stumbles upon a family secret which will link her forever to the destiny of a young Jewish girl, Sarah. Rated PG 13

 

Super 8 – Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning

In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witnesses a catastrophic train crash while making a super 8 movie and soon they suspect that it was not an accident. Shortly after, unusual disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town, and the local deputy tries to uncover the truth, something more terrifying than any of them could have imagined. Rated PG 13

 

 

 

 

 

Ann Patchett’s latest novel, State of Wonder, takes the reader deep into the heart of the Brazilian jungle.  Dr. Mariana Singh, who conducts research for a pharmaceutical company in Minneapolis, has just been informed that her co-worker, Dr. Anders Eckman, has died of a mysterious fever in the Amazon.  At the time, Dr. Eckman was attempting to find the pharmaceutical company’s top research scientist, Dr. Annick Swenson, who has ceased all contact with the CEO of the company.  Dr. Singh has been recruited to travel to South America in order to find out more about Dr. Eckman’s death and to make contact with Dr. Swenson about the status of her research, which may culminate in a lucrative new drug for the company.

 After a long trip to Brazil, Dr. Singh learns more about Dr. Swenson’s remarkable research and its ethical connotations.  While trying to process what Dr. Swenson has uncovered and the worldwide implications of her findings, Dr. Singh learns the truth about what has happened to her colleague, Dr. Eckman. State of Wonder is full of adventure, scientific breakthroughs, ethical dilemmas and coming to terms with the triumphs and mistakes of the past.   Actress Hope Davis reads the audiobook and does a superb job of narrating this complex story.

On a side note – about 12 years ago I heard Patchett read from her book “The Magician’s Assistant” in Nashville, Tennessee.  Although the book sounded fascinating, I never got around to reading it.  After listening to this audiobook, I can’t wait to go back and listen to “The Magician’s Assistant.”

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern has become one of the most buzzed-about books of the year, and with good reason.  Set in the late 1800s, it is the story of a boy named Marco and a girl named Celia who are bound in a competition that they don’t truly understand, but they know that it will involve using the magical abilities that both show at a young age.  They spend their young lives being trained by instructors whose methods differ greatly until the time comes for the challenge to begin.  For this purpose, a venue is created:  a stunning, mysterious black-and-white circus that travels constantly and only operates at night, called Les Cirque des Reves.  It is like no other circus you have ever seen, complete with a fortune teller, an illusionist, acrobats, the most delicious food you can imagine, and tents filled with landscapes that will take your breath away.  The two spend years using their abilities to make alterations to the circus, constantly one-upping each other as they grow more and more aware that the consequences could be dire.  Especially once they realize their true feelings for one another.

The story is told through multiple points of view all while bouncing around in time to different points in the lifespan of the circus.  Initially this can make it a little hard to follow exactly when and where everything is happening, but once you catch onto the flow of it, this makes the story more complete and layered.  The focus of the story isn’t just on Celia and Marco, but on all the supporting circus folk as well.  In fact, the part of the story I found most compelling was the story of Bailey, a boy who becomes enthralled with the circus at a young age and waits for years for it to come back.  Eventually he befriends two of the circus performers and find his fate intertwined with that of the circus in a way he never expected.  But my absolute favorite thing about the book is how beautifully it is written.  The language is absolutely lovely and creates the most vivid and uniquely beautiful pictures in the reader’s head.  I don’t even want to describe any of it to you because part of the fun of the book is discovering new parts of the circus as Celia and Marco make their alterations!  Morgenstern creates a very sensory experience; you can see, hear, smell, and taste the circus as though it is going on all around you. 

Making my expereince with The Night Circus even better, I listened to the audio version read by the amazing Jim Dale (narrator of the Harry Potter audio books).  He really brings the characters to life, and his narration makes this already beautifully-written book even more magical.  If you like magic, romance, and very vivid reading experiences, I highly recommend picking up this incredibly enchanting novel.

The most expensive multivitamin is the better one, because the price reflects a company with more stringent quality controls, right?  Not at all.  But the cheaper ones aren’t any good either, right?  Wrong again.  Some of them are stellar.  Some.

It turns out there is pretty much no correlation between cost and quality, from a few cents per dose to some over fifty cents a pill.  Some don’t have the the advertised  RDA of certain vitamins.  Some have unhealthful contaminates.  Some are of such low quality they don’t disintegrate properly, rendering them ineffective.

So, just don’t take vitamins then?  Also, a bad idea.  Read the results of this experiment and buy the cheapest with a passing score.

Rainy days, hot cider, and brisk temperatures mean that autumn is here, and with it, my favorite time of year: curl-up-with-a-good-book season (a long season that includes just about everything outside of Beach Reading season)! Here are two long, luscious books that beg to be read under a blanket with a mug of something hot.

The Thirteenth Tale, first and only novel of Diane Setterfield, has been continuously popular since its 2006 release. The rich atmospheric tone of this novel is perfectly matched to brisk fall weather and the thrilling plot will keep you turning the pages late into the night. Reclusive author Vida Winter has shrouded her identity and her history in lies and deceptions; her deathbed wish to set the record straight leads her to Margaret Lea, timid bookseller and sometime-biographer. Margaret is drawn into Vida’s story, a convoluted and compelling tale of crumbling Victorian houses, madwomen in the attic, tragedy, heartbreak, mystery, secrets, and love. When I read this book I could NOT put it down! DPL has recently acquired a brand-new “book club in a box” kit for this book; book club kits include 10+ copies of the book, tips for starting a book club, and a list of discussion questions. They check out for 6 weeks. The Thirteenth Tale book club kit is coming soon!

Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith is spectacularly Victorian, bursting with madhouses, ladies’ maids, and enough absurd coincidences and precocious orphans to make Charles Dickens blush. It’s the story of aristocratic Maud Lilly and orphaned Sue Trinder, who goes to work for the Lilly family intending to rob Maud blind. The twists and turns that ensue, along with Waters’ sharp wit and snappy pacing, make this novel truly unforgettable. If you’re hooked on this historical, atmospheric vibe, try Waters’ other novels: Affinity, The Little Stranger, and Tipping the Velvet.

 

 

As a pretty big fan of sci-fi TV and movies, I am embarrassed that it took me this long to watch Joss Whedon’s critically-acclaimed and short-lived TV series Firefly.  For those who are unfamiliar with it, Firefly is a 14-episode sci-fi series documenting the travels and missions of the spaceship Serenity.  It is set about 500 years in the future when humans have relocated to a new star system controlled by a group of central planets called The Alliance.  Though a band of rebels try to overthrow the corrupt Alliance, they are defeated and The Alliance remains in power.  In the pilot episode we meet Serenity’s captain Mal Reynolds and his second-in-command Zoe, who were on the losing side of the war with The Alliance and now take odd jobs (mostly smuggling) to get by.  The rest of the crew is a compelling cast of characters including adorable mechanic Kaylee, professional companion Inara, and pilot Wash.  To make some extra money the crew picks up some folks willing to pay for transport, including a preacher and a doctor with very mysterious cargo.

Being a unique hybrid of sci-fi and western, Firefly is like nothing else I’ve watched before, and that’s one thing I really love about it.  Despite the futuristic technology, the planets on the outer rim of the new star system (where the outlaw crew of Serenity spend most of their time) aren’t as well-off as the core Alliance planets, so they have a very rustic Old West look and feel.  But my favorite thing about this show is probably the characters.  There are nine very different members of the Serenity crew, and I can’t possibly pick a favorite or a least favorite because they’re all compelling and interesting in their own way.  Firefly was unfortunately cancelled before fans could get answers to a lot of the biggest questions of the series, including the full backstory of the show’s most mysterious character: crazy genius River Tam, who was experimented on at the hands of The Alliance.  But luckily for us, fans of the show rallied and a follow-up movie was made called Serenity, which serves as a very satisfying conclusion to an incredible series.

Like many of our patrons and staff members, I was very excited when library books became available for download on my Kindle. The best of all worlds – books that are free, digital, and recent! As a test run, I downloaded (and immediately loved) The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch.

This fantasy novel follows the stunning exploits of the Gentlemen Bastards, a brazen group of expert con artists led by the singularly brilliant Locke Lamora, an orphan who’s been stealing, lying, and outwitting his betters since he was old enough to walk. His scheming is matched only by the mysterious Gray King, an infamous man who can kill with a touch and has an uncanny way of knowing things he shouldn’t know – much like Locke Lamora himself.

The setting of the novel is quite spectacular and fans of world-building prowess will not be disappointed by the invention of Camorr, a great city built on the ruins of an ancient alien settlement made of the beautiful, unbreakable, eerily glowing, and often deadly substance called Elderglass. It’s like Renaissance Venice through a looking glass: people travel via canal and drink plenty of fine wine in between practicing alchemy and dodging attacks from scorpion hawks. Women and men alike work in dangerous and deadly positions, whether in the criminal underworld, lofty upper classes, or the watery ring of female gladiators who use short javelins to fight 10-foot-long leaping sharks. The action is frequent but unsteadily paced; exciting scenes that would be the climax of any other novel are merely a bump on the road of this thrilling narrative. Lots of adult language and a high body count give this book a gritty, real-life flavor.

This book is great for fantasy fans who are sick of elves and prophecies as well as fiction readers who want to try fantasy for the first time!

 True Love (And Other Lies) by Whitney Gaskell has an interesting premise and a promising heroine.Things I like – Clare is funny and snarkily irreverent about her job as a travel writer for the magazine, Sassy Seniors!

Based in New York, she must evaluate destinations with an eye for early-bird specials and frugal accommodations. Usually, when she gets to travel, she’s sent to budget hotels in American cities.When she finally  gets an opportunity to go to London, she feels the time spent paying her dues has paid off.

(Actually the reason I am reading the book is because I did a search for novels about travel or travel writers).

Stay tuned…

Stephanie Gayle’s story of a disgraced lawyer who moves from Manhatten to Macon,Georgia has all the ingredients of a standard chick lit novel – a young, attractive female in a glamorous profession who places her trust in a wildly untrustworthy cad and is now trying to rebuild her life with new friends, in a new job, in a new city.

Gayle, however, nearly forgets to include a new romance for her heroine, Natalie Goldberg. Instead, the real strength of My Summer of Southern Discomfort is in the relationship the Bostonian daughter of a legendary civil rights lawyer develops with Ben, her Southern, conservative co-worker, as the two of them try a death penalty case together. Natalie and Ben learn to respect the strenghs each one brings to the trial and it’s preparation.

The book is actually a hybrid of genres – legal fiction/romance.  A love interest for Natalie is hurriedly tacked on at the end of the book, so the book does earn it’s embossed Chick Lit stamp.

The beginning of the audiobook version of this book is fun – especially if you are also a Little House fan. You’ll have many “I felt like that too!” moments, as the author describes her love of what she calls “Laura World.”

Wendy McClure, the author of The Wilder Life  is on the extreme end of the Little House research continuum, however. After a while, I found myself withdrawing – wishing I hadn’t heard that bit of myth debunking. I was quite happy believing that most things in the books were based on emotional, if not factual, truth.

Of special interest are the details about how the tv series overtook the books in popularity and the legal battles over the “Little House” brand, or LHOP, as the author calls it.

The end is satisfying and thought-provoking. McClure ties in what she learned about how Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder told their stories with  how she came to terms with memories of her mother.