Haywire – Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender
After freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, Mallory is double-crossed and left for dead by someone in her own agency. Suddenly the target of assassins who know her every move, Mallory unleashes the fury of her fighting skills to uncover the truth and turn the tables on her ruthless adversary. R
Underworld – Awakening – Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy
Vampire warrioress Selene escapes imprisonment to find herself in a world where humans have discovered the existence of both vampire and lycan clans, and are conducting an all-out war to eradicate both immortal species. R
The Vow – Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum
A young couple has a car accident that puts the wife in a coma. After she wakes up with severe memory loss, her husband sets his sights on winning her heart again.PG-13
Albert Nobbs – Glenn Close, Mia Wasikowska
A woman passes as a man in order to work and survive in 19th century Ireland. Some thirty years after donning men’s clothing, she finds herself trapped in a prison of her own making.R
Grey – Lian Neeson, Dermot Mulroney
After their plane crashes into the remote Alaskan wilderness, a roughneck group of oil drillers is forced to find a way back to civilization. As Ottway leads the injured survivors through the brutal snow and ice, they are relentlessly tracked by a vicious pack of rogue wolves that will do anything to defend their territory. Adrenaline-fueled, action-packed and loaded with some of the most intense and brutally realistic attack scenes ever filmed. R
Chronicle – Dane Dehaan, Alex Russell
Seen through the lens of a troubled teen’s video camera, yet filled with eye-popping action and jaw-dropping special effects, Chronicle is as real as it gets. When three ordinary high school friends make an extraordinary discovery, they acquire amazing abilities beyond their understanding. But as their powers develop, so do their darker sides. Fun, harmless pranks soon lead to much riskier activities as the boys’ ‘gifts,’ and their lives, spin dangerously out of control! PG-13
Woman in Black – Daniel Ratcliffe, Janet McTeer
A young lawyer is ordered to travel to a remote village and sort out a recently deceased client’s papers. While he works alone in the client’s isolated house, he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman who is terrorizing the locals. This leads him on a desperate race against time when he discovers her true intent. PG-13
Red Tails – Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard.
Italy, 1944. As the war takes its toll on Allied forces in Europe, a squadron of black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen are finally given the chance to prove themselves in the sky, even as they battle discrimination on the ground. Featuring jaw-dropping aerial action and thrilling special effects, Red Tails is a breathtaking tribute to the unsung heroes who rose above extraordinary challenges and ultimately soared into history. PG-13
New Year’s Eve – Halle Berry, Robert DeNiro
A stellar ensemble cast celebrates love, hope, forgiveness, second chances, and fresh starts in intertwining stories told amidst the pulse and promise of New York City on the most dazzling night of the year.PG-13
We Need to Talk About Kevin – Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly
Kevin’s mother struggles to love her strange child, despite the increasingly vicious things he says and does as he grows up. But Kevin is just getting started, and his final act will be beyond anything anyone imagined.
November 1958: the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Into the rarefied atmosphere of wealth and tradition comes the most unlikely of horses-a drab white former plow horse named Snowman-and his rider, Harry de Leyer. They were the longest of all longshots – and their win was the stuff of legend. The Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts tells their extraordinary story.
Harry de Leyer first saw the horse he would name Snowman on a bleak winter afternoon between the slats of a rickety truck bound for the slaughterhouse. He recognized the spark in the eye of the beaten-up horse and bought him for eighty dollars. On Harry’s modest farm on Long Island, the horse thrived. But the recent Dutch immigrant and his growing family needed money, and Harry was always on the lookout for the perfect thoroughbred to train for the show-jumping circuit-so he reluctantly sold Snowman to a farm a few miles down the road. But Snowman had other ideas about what Harry needed. When he turned up back at Harry’s barn, dragging an old tire and a broken fence board, Harry knew that he had misjudged the horse. And so he set about teaching this shaggy, easygoing horse how to fly.
One show at a time, against extraordinary odds and some of the most expensive thoroughbreds alive, the pair climbed to the very top of the sport of show jumping. Here is the dramatic and inspiring rise to stardom of an unlikely duo, based on the insight and recollections of “the Flying Dutchman” himself. Their story captured the heart of Cold War–era America-a story of unstoppable hope, inconceivable dreams, and the chance to have it all. Elizabeth Letts’s message is simple: Never give up, even when the obstacles seem sky-high. There is something extraordinary in all of us. (provided by publisher)
In Last Night in Montreal, the debut novel by Emily St. John Mandel, Lilia Albert’s entire life has been a series of appearances and disappearances since she was abducted by her father when she was a young girl. By growing up this way, it is no surprise that she continues to weave in and out of other’s lives as an adult. During a short stay in New York City, she meets Eli and swifty moves in with him. Early one morning after telling Eli she is going for coffee, she fails to return and after looking everywhere for her resigns himself to the fact that she has disappeared. Some time later, he receives a postcard stating that she is now living in Montreal and he leaves on a quest to find her which leads him on a strange and unexpected journey. St. John Mandel threads the past and present together with an ethereal quality and tells the story of Lilia and those she has left behind throughout her life. I really loved Mandel’s writing and characters, but I have to admit the ending left me with more questions than answers. St. John Mandel has proven to be a gifted writer and I have just started her second novel, The Singer’s Gun, which I hope to blog about soon.
Don’t judge this wonderful book by its covers, which are egregious. Laura Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm is, by a wide margin, the most intelligent and engaging romance I’ve ever read. It proves what romance readers have known for generations: a love story with a happy ending can be just as powerful and thoughtful as any other literary novel. The heroine, Maddy Timms, is a devout Quaker: she speaks in a thee-thou manner that other characters remark upon as often you inevitably will. It’s infuriating, it’s different, it’s overly pious and hard to understand. It marks Maddy as a person who lives apart, in a smaller and humbler world than her Anglican peers. Her religion is restrictive and judgmental, but it’s also warm and forgiving and kind – just like Maddy herself. Christian Langland is a standard romantic hero (a strapping, handsome, fabulously wealthy Duke who happens to be a well-known rake), until a neurological illness strikes out of nowhere, shattering his ability to communicate. Only Maddy recognizes that he is not incompetent, an idiot, a savage struck down by God for his immoral ways: he is a sick man. And she is led by God to restore him to health.
There are layers upon layers in this book. Christian is mad; Maddy is a Christian. Flowers and storms pop up in significant junctures throughout the story, bolstering the plot as well as reminding you of the central theme: there is always a way to find something beautiful, something wonderful, even in the darkest and most harrowing times. The point of view alternates between Christian and Maddy, and Ms. Kinsale does an absolutely phenomenal job of illustrating Christian’s rapid mental decline and slow recovery both from inside and outside his fuddled mind. She very rarely writes the same moment from both characters’ perspectives, so you only know what Christian can piece together or what Maddy has been present to see. The scenes inside the lunatic asylum in the immediate aftermath of Christian’s illness are heartwrenching, as we watch him struggle to make even the simplest thought understood by his doctors. Maddy is the first and only person to truly understand him, to know that his intelligence is as fierce as ever but his ability to speak and to understand has been compromised. As their love blossoms, Maddy struggles with her religious convictions and Christian struggles with his illness, his family, and his legal obligations. I’ve never been moved to root for a romance novel couple as I was for these two.
If you’re a romance reader and you’ve never read Flowers from the Storm, do so right away! You won’t regret it. Then, pass it on to a skeptical friend who thinks romances are cheap, tawdry, worthless, or sub-literary: I’ve never read a book more likely to change their mind.
Demand for the library’s copies of The Hunger Games has skyrocketed since the movie came out. Don’t worry, we can put you on the reserve list, but you might have a little bit of a wait ahead of you before your copy comes in. So while you wait, here are a few similar titles you might want to try:
If you like plenty of action and powerful female characters:
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
If you’re looking for fast-paced stories about survival:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Gone by Michael Grant
If you’re interested in a dystopian world with a government gone bad:
1984 by George Orwell
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
If you want something with a bit of romance:
Matched by Ally Condie
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
If you’re looking for some cool sci-fi:
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Sunday is Earth Day – here are some new books at the library that will help you practice earth-saving techniques, have some fun and beautify your space.
Beautiful No Mow Yards : More than 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives by Evelyn Hadden provides plenty of design ideas for meadows and prairies, patios and play areas, ponds, xeric and rain gardens, and edible gardens, to name a few options including specific plant recommendations as well as guidance for converting lawn to garden
Creating Rain Gardens : Capturing Rain for Your Own Water Efficient Garden by Cleo Woelfe-Erskine – Homeowners spend hundreds of dollars watering their yard, but there is an easy way to save money and resources. Rain gardening is as simple as collecting rain to reuse in your yard. This is a comprehensive book for the DIY-er, covering everything from rain barrels to simple living roofs, permeable patios, and other low-tech affordable ways to save water in the garden.
Handmade Garden Projects : Step-by-Step Instructions for Creative Garden Features, Containers, Lighting and More by Lorene Forkner – Part eco-friendly non-traditional, part crafty creative, this book will show you how you can transform your garden into a handmade, personality-infused oasis.
Small Space Container Gardens : Transform your Balcony, Porch or Patio with Fruits, Flowers, Foliage and Herbs by Fern Richardson – This colorful volume on gardening in small spaces provides practical information on creating vibrant plantings in containers and getting the most out of small patios, balconies, and limited space yards.
I went into reading The Paris Wife by Paula McLain with a blank slate. I had never read any of Ernest Hemingway’s novels, and I knew only the bare minimum of biographical information about his life. This book is a fictionalized account of Hemingway’s first wife Hadley. It details all of the highs and lows of their complicated relationship, from their first meeting in Chicago in 1920 and subsequent whirlwind marriage to their years of living in Paris and the unraveling of their once happy life together. Their lives seem glamorous on the surface: spending time with the Fitzgeralds and Gertrude Stein, writing in chic Paris cafes, and taking extended vacations to exotic locales around Europe. But boiling below the surface is a host of problems. As attentive and accommodating as Hadley tries to be, she simply cannot contend with Ernest’s ambition, neediness, and thirst for the drink.
The story is told through Hadley’s point of view. She grew up in a very different setting, much more conservative and traditional than the Jazz Age Paris of the 1920s, so we’re learning about this time and place through brand new eyes. The writing is lovely and McLain is very successful in making the time period come alive. Plus, the English major in me got giddy every time a different historical figure popped up in the story. I actually listened to the audio version of The Paris Wife and it was very well done. Even though anyone who knows even a little bit about Hemingway has an idea of how this story ends, it’s still a compelling and engaging read that I would recommend to fans of historical fiction, novels about love and marriage, and Ernest Hemingway.
guest post from Georgann
I gladly opened my doors and windows to enjoy this wonderful spring weather. I love sitting in my kitchen, listening to the birds singing away. I thought to myself this year, as I do every year, I ought to learn to identify some of these songs. Then a patrons came into the Eastern Branch Library where I was working, all excited to tell us he had just heard a meadowlark for the first time in years! And I thought, “I don’t know if I’d know a meadowlark if I heard one!” So I checked out Peterson Field Guides Western Birding by Ear.
The stated goal of the authors is to help people identify the bird songs they hear. Just what I wanted! The introduction recommends the listener to just learn one group0ing of birds at a time, so as not to get confused. While that is a great idea, I was having so much fun learning, I couldn’t wait to keep on listening. And wouldn’t you know? The next walk I took, I was quite confused!
I really enjoyed listening to this 3 CD set. The reader does quite well and seems to completely enjoy his job. I like the vivid words they use to try to describe the songs: liquid, gurgling, thin or blurry. I was amazed at how many of the songs were familiar. I learned many new facts. For example, did you know that the same bird species will sound different in different areas of the country? Southern accents for birds! I learned that some birds don’t actually “sing’ but the “song” comes from the way they move their feathers. I learned that sometimes, the most beautiful birds (ie hummingbirds, peacocks and pheasants) have the least beautiful songs. Some of the best singers are the most drab. Eastern and Central Birding, here I come!
Best of all, I recognized the meadowlark at the Eastern Branch!
Inspired by a glowing review on NPR and the gorgeous cover design, I snapped up The Dark Rose as quickly as I could. It’s a mild thriller-cum-literary novel that tangles with the questions of morality and guilt. If you intend to do harm but fail, are you guilty of the crime? If you intend to do good, but fall into the wrong side of the law, are you morally at fault? Yes and yes, according to Erin Kelly, an author who hands out death and disaster with a free hand; hers is a universe where even minor crimes don’t go unpunished, and the result is oddly satisfying (if a bit bleak). The story follows two central characters – Louisa and Paul – and three timelines: Louisa’s volatile relationship with rocker Adam Glasslake as an 18 year old in 1989 London, Paul’s troubled upbringing in a suburban slum under the wing of his illiterate best friend Daniel, and the present day, where the two characters meet and work together restoring a sixteenth-century garden in the British countryside. Louisa is immediately drawn to Paul, a doppelganger of her long gone lover Adam, and Paul – vulnerable in the aftermath of agreeing to testify against his best friend in a murder trial – is drawn to her as well. Each of them is flawed in interesting and unique ways, and they have coping methods and personalities that feel genuine as well as compelling.
Juggling multiple timelines is a feat successfully maneuvered by few authors, but Kelly does a respectable job matching the pacing and tone between her segments and blending them together the right way. Unfortunately, she’s much better at characterization than plotting, as her attempt isn’t without flaws: the present day story starts off running and only picks up speed, while the back stories start off slower and eventually grind to a crawl near the 2/3 mark. It’s frustrating to have to leave the exciting, sensual present to revisit teenaged Louisa and Paul flailing in 1989 and 2009, respectively, as they cope with circumstances and guilt that will haunt them going forward. That aside, the language in this book is splendid and the gardening subplot is a rich source of metaphor and a tidy frame for the story.
We are all guilty of something; this book is about what happens when that guilt catches up to you.