December 2

Friends with Benefits – Justin Timberlake, Mila Kunis

While trying to avoid the cliches of Hollywood romantic comedies, Dylan and Jamie soon discover that adding the act of sex to their friendship does lead to complications.



The Smurfs – Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris

When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village, they’re forced through a portal, out of their world and into ours, landing in the middle of New York’s Central Park.


December 6

The Help – Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard

Mississippi during the 1960s: Skeeter, a southern society girl, returns from college determined to become a writer, but turns her friends’ lives, and a small Mississippi town, upside down when she decides to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent southern families. Aibileen, Skeeter’s best friend’s housekeeper, is the first to open up, to the dismay of her friends in the tight-knit black community.


Cowboys and Aliens – Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford

The Old West.. where a lone cowboy leads an uprising against a terror from beyond our world. 1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde. It’s a town that lives in fear.


December 13

Kung Fu Panda 2 – Jack Black, Angelina Jolie

Po is now living his dream as the Dragon Warrior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, the Furious Five. But Po’s new life of awesomeness is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. Po must look to his past and uncover the secrets of his mysterious origins in order to able to unlock the strength he needs to succeed.


Rise of the Planet of the Apes – John Lithgow, James Franco, Frieda Pinto

During experiments to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, a genetically enhanced chimpanzee uses its greater intelligence to lead other apes to freedom.





I have always had a soft spot for retellings of fairy tales; growing up enthralled by animated Disney movies that did just that (Snow White! Sleeping Beauty! The Little Mermaid! Aladdin! Mulan!), I suppose it was inevitable. This sub-genre of fantasy has obvious appeal to kids and YAs as a convenient segue from Disney princesses to fiction and fantasy, but there is lots of adult appeal as well.

My favorite is Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. In this romantic, atmospheric adventure, teenaged Sorcha faces down incredible odds with the lives of her six older brothers on the line. An evil stepmother has transformed them into swans, and Sorcha must spend years in magically induced silence weaving them shirts out of a prickly, punishing plant that bloodies and blisters her fingers. The fairy tale is Celtic and the book is beautiful, with as much historical and mythical appeal as romance.



A close second is The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. In this deceptively mature tale, a young English boy slips into the world of fairy tales – but not everything is as his storybooks told it. There are some gruesome moments but it’s never unduly gory; teen readers as well as adults (and even mature tweens) should be comfortable with the scares. Connolly is a thriller writer by trade and that style is evident in The Book of Lost Things, which is tense and atmospheric. A chilling and very unique take on familiar fairy tale motifs.


Finally, if you love fairy tales and Disney princesses, don’t miss out on Robin McKinley. Her retold fairy tales have been popular with teens and adults for decades; Spindle’s End, her spin on Sleeping Beauty, involves a sleek magical realm that’s familiar without being at all boring. Princess Briar Rose (Rosie) is spirited away from the evil fairy Pernicia’s curse to be raised in secret as the daughter of a village fairy. Rosie’s ability to speak to animals and her perfect golden curls cling to her, the gifts of her fairy godmothers, despite her average looks and un-princess-like interest in blacksmithing and animals. In Beauty and Rose Daughter, two distinctly different but related books that retell the story of Beauty and the Beast, McKinley reinvents Belle and all the other familiar characters and fills in the missing details of the story.

Warm up your mixers people, it’s Cookie Season again! (Of course, in my book, it’s always Cookie Season, but December is the main event of the year)

Here are some of the latest and greatest cookie books from the Davenport Library.

Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich – Brand-new cookies and delicious new spins on the classics are here, with simple well-tested recipes and all the tips, techniques, and ideas that you need to please a crowd or satisfy the most sophisticated palate around.


Crazy About Cookies: 300 Scrumptious Recipes for Every Occasion and Craving by Krystina Castella – Delicious riffs on the classics and more adventurous offerings (like savory cornmeal olive cookies). There’s something for every occasion, from melt-in-your-mouth after-school snacks to fun Christmas cookie constructions.


Very Merry Cookie Party: How to Plan a Christmas Cookie Exchange by Barbara Grunes – Make a gorgeous variety of delicious Christmas cookies without spending days upon flour-smudged days mixing, rolling, and baking. This is your guide to the Christmas cookie exchange, where everyone shows up with a few batches of homemade cookies to swap.


Betty Crocker Cookies Cookies: 100 Recipes for the Way You Really CookEveryone has a favorite cookie, and chances are they’ll find it in this collection of tried-and-true as well as new cookies, brownies and bars from Betty Crocker.

Mystery writer and four-time Agatha Award winner Louise Penny’s seventh book in the Inspector Armand Gamache series, A Trick of the Light, may just be her best yet.  The book follows the same quirky cast of characters who reside in the sleepy village of Three Pines near Montreal, Canada.  Artist and longtime resident Clara Morrow has just reached the pinnacle of her artistic career, a solo exhibition at the Modern Art Museum in Montreal.  The morning after the opening celebration, as Clara is relishing in her triumph, her closest childhood friend, Lillian Dyson, is found strangled in Clara’s serene garden and Clara quickly becomes the prime suspect.

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, of the Surete du Quebec, and his team are called in to investigate the murder, which has become even more complicated as the Inspector is surrounded by the residents of Three Pines, many who have become friendly with him and his team over the years.  Gamache soon discovers that Clara and Lillian had become estranged after a falling out decades earlier, which moves the investigation in a new direction.  In addition to the murder of Lillian, the story gives the reader a glimpse into the competitive art world and the story is peppered with artists, art critics and museum curators.  Gamache soon learns the true nature of the art world, a place where the competition between enemies and friends can lead to murder.

New to Louise Penny’s mysteries?  Start with the first book in the series, Still Life, which is also a must read and introduces all the residents of Three Pines!

Sign me up for Irish Dancing lessons because after watching the documentary, Jig, I am pretty sure that kicking up one’s heels must be the funnest thing EVER.

Jig, a film by Sue Bourne, follows several dancers and dancing teams from all over the world as they prepare for and compete in the 2010 Irish Dancing World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland. Every one of the featured competitors’ stories is fascinating, but I was especially charmed by the young girl from Ireland who lovingly displayed the dress that her grandmother bought her to compete in right before she passed away. I knew she was my favorite when the camera zoomed in on the calendar in her bedroom and you could see where she had written in the birthday of Disney channel star, Emily Osment, write next to her goal to win the world championships. She may be a highly focused performer, but she apparently still finds time to watch Hannah Montana!

What I liked most about this film was how HAPPY I felt while watching it. Yes, there are emotional moments such as when a young dancer clutches his stuffed animal and discusses being bullied or when members of the underdog Russian women’s team are refused visas into Scotland. But overall, Jig absolutely sparkles with passion and joy and left me feeling that skipping may just be the best way to travel.

Hearty praise for Bill Bryson isn’t new to the Info Cafe blog (both Lynn and Ann have gushed about him in the past), but he is new to me! The audiobook of At Home: A Short History of Private Life, read by the author, was the first Bryson book I’ve read, and one of the most entertaining nonfiction books I’ve ever encountered on any subject. Part of the appeal comes from the irresistible subject matter: Bryson deals with the everyday, but elevates it beyond the mundane into something fascinating. The greater part of the book’s success is Bryson himself – dry wit that had me laughing and quoting passages to friends, great writing that’s both intelligent and accessible, and (crucially) excellent narration.

No matter what you’re interested in, there is something for you in At Home: architecture, cooking, engineering, etymology, inventing, transportation, medicine, sanitation and hygiene, social history, entertainment, a dash of politics, and mostly, British and American history. If history isn’t your thing, don’t be intimidated – though much of the book deals with historical matters, it never feels stuffy or boring (with the possible, arguable exception of a lengthy chapter on British architecture that suffers from a lack of the visual aids present in the printed book). The comforts we’re accustomed to – bright lights, running water, soap, sturdy clothing, efficient laundry, regular bathing, doctors who wash their hands, and a reasonable expectation that rats will NOT nest inside your mattress even as you sleep above them – these things are all shockingly new.

I particularly recommend this to anyone who’s a fan of historical novels, from Jane Austen through Diana Gabaldon; once you learn about the privy fixtures and habits of cleanliness in the pre-modern era, your reading of Emma will never be the same!

Super-duper seal of approval: after hearing a snippet while riding in my car, my book-phobic husband insisted on taking it off my hands to listen himself!

guest review by Georgann

Seizure is the second in Kathy Reichs new YA series, Virals. The background from book one, Virals: a group of four teens and their wolf-dog are contaminated with a man-made virus. It gives them special wolf-like powers. They don’t turn into werewolves; rather, they get super-enhanced senses.

I liked Virals, but Seizure is even better! Our heroes are a group of ordinary teens, verging on “nerdy” but OK with their lowly status on the high school totem pole. These are great characters. In this novel, the group tracks down a long-lost pirate treasure in an effort to save the island on which they live. You just gotta love these kids! Although they are forever off doing things their parents continually ground them for, they just keep after their goal.

I enjoyed letting my imagination soar with the kids as they get into and out of one scrape after another. They are an entertaining group to spend time with! I chuckled out loud more than once. But I also enjoyed the suspense. they get into some dangerous situations, ala Indiana Jones, and I had to keep reading. Will they get through this? Will they get caught? How will this situation turn out? Will they find the treasure and save their home?

I had a day off and read this book in one sitting! It was that fun! Now, if I can only remember what all happened by the time book 3 comes out. Look for Code in 2012.

Do you get psyched about the prospect of panning over black and white photos while a narrator describes what is going on in those photos? If you said, “Yeah, buddy!” then Ken Burn’s brand new Prohibition is for you.

With a total running time of 6 hours, it is relatively digestible as the equivalent of watching three movies. And in all seriousness, these black and white photos featuring denizens of the Jazz Age are truly intriguing. Even more so is the occasional bit of footage of flappers dancing, heaven knows the source.

It is not the documentary for you if your heart bleeds at the sight of innocent glass jugs being blasted apart by Volstead enforcers or the occasional bullet-riddled pinstriped gangster.

Fun Prohibition facts:
“Bad guy” Al Capone financed the soup kitchen that fed thousands on Chicago’s south side as the Great Depression took hold. The best charge the feds could level against Mr. Capone (other than keen business acumen in a market they created) is income tax evasion. Shockingly he didn’t declare all his profits on his 1040-EZ form.

Small cities of Bahamanian freighters would drop anchor three miles off the Atlantic coast to make deliveries to local boats. No one cared.

Many “Dry” congresspeople drank, some even accepting deliveries at the Capitol.

Alcohol consumption increased in some cities.

Some milkmen would deliver hooch to your doorstep in innocuous bottles to streamline the purchasing process.

Numbers exponentially surged for medical whiskey prescriptions and synagogue memberships.

I’ve never watched a documentary from the renowned master, Ken Burns. This was time well spent.

By turns humorous and heart wrenching, the documentary Buck is far more than it  first appears. Sure, it’s about horses and how to treat them, but it’s also about people and facing adversity and being the best person you can, no matter what you’ve faced in the past.

Buck Brannaman (who was the inspiration for and consultant to the movie The Horse Whisperer and even worked as Robert Redford’s stunt double) travels across the country giving workshops on “Natural Horsemanship”, a method of training horses that rejects cruelty and “breaking”, and instead teaches understanding and finding mutual benefits for both horse and rider. People often bring “problem” horses to Buck, horses that refuse to be saddled or follow commands; invariably Buck has the horse calm and obedient within minutes, all done with gentle, persistent direction. Buck points out that most of the time the problem lies with the rider; he doesn’t treat people with horse problems, he treats horses with people problems.

What’s most riveting about Buck though is Buck Brannaman himself. Raised by a tyrannical father that regularly beat and abused him and his brother, Buck has actively chosen to leave that legacy in the past. He has an empathy for horses – and people – that only someone that has known what it’s like to be afraid and helpless can have. He’s found that the way that he’s learned to treat horses – by giving them a chance – bleeds into your life and how you treat your fellow humans. Buck is exactly the kind of person you’d like to invite over for barbeque and a beer – funny and smart and thoughtful, a true modern cowboy. This documentary is beautifully photographed and edited. Buck’s story informs the film, but doesn’t overwhelm it. And despite the past suffering, what you’ll remember and feel is hope for the future.

Another cool feature of our new catalog is ….wait for it…

Map It!

It’s Friday night and you see that a dvd you want for the weekend is in at the East Moline Public Library.

You click on the title of the dvd, then choose Map It and you’ll get a Google Map of the greater Quad-City area. Hover over the yellow balloon (yellow balloons mean that the item is on the shelf). You’ll see the library’s hours, phone number and directions to the library.

How cool is that?