a nice little placeIn A Nice Little Place on the North Side, columnist George Will returns to baseball with a deeply personal look at his hapless Chicago Cubs and their often beatified home, Wrigley Field, as it turns one hundred years old.

Baseball, Will argues, is full of metaphors for life, religion, and happiness, and Wrigley is considered one of its sacred spaces. But what is its true, hyperbole-free history? Winding beautifully like Wrigley’s iconic ivy, Will’s meditation on “The Friendly Confines” examines both the unforgettable stories that forged the field’s legend and the larger-than-life characters – from Wrigley and Ruth to Veeck, Durocher, and Banks – who brought it glory, heartbreak, and scandal. Drawing upon his trademark knowledge and inimitable sense of humor, Will also explores his childhood connections to the team, the Cubs’ future, and what keeps long-suffering fans rooting for the home team after so many years of futility.

In the end, A Nice Little Place on the North Side is more than just the history of a ballpark. It is the story of Chicago, of baseball, and of America itself. (description from publisher)

APRIL 1

anchorman2Anchorman 2 – Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate, David Koechner

Ron and Veronica’s romance falls apart as the duo anchors a weekend broadcast at a New York-based network in 1980. Ron is fired for being the worst anchor anyone has ever seen and so he leaves Veronica rather than live in her shadow. So he re-creates himself at a CNN-type network in the eighties and accidentally invents the soul-sucking brand of non-news that now rules cable as he tries to win back Veronica’s love. Rated PG-13

APRIL 8

hobbit smaugThe Hobbit – the Desolation of Smaug – Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Stephen Fry, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett

Bilbo Baggins continues on in his journey with the wizard Gandalf and thirteen dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, on an epic quest to reclaim their lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. Rated PG-13

 

homefrontHomefront – Jason Statham, James Franco, Winona Ryder, Kate Bosworth,

An action-packed thriller about how far one man will go to protect his family. Widowed ex-DEA agent Phil Broker retires to a quiet Southern town with his ten-year-old daughter and discovers that the idyllic setting is riddled with drugs and violence. When a riveting chain of events forces him to face off with psychotic local drug lord Gator Bodine, Broker must retaliate using the fearsome skills he hoped to keep in his past. Rated R

 

paranormalParanormal Activity – The Marked Ones – Andrew Jacobs, Molly Ephraim, Richard Cabral

The same malevolent demon who claimed Kristi and Katie is back. Jesse starts experiencing several disconcerting and indescribable things after his neighbor’s death. As he looks into these occurrences, he discovers that he has been chosen for possession by this malicious demon. It’s inevitable that he will be under its control; it’s only a matter of time. Rated R

 

august osage countyAugust : Osage County – Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, Dermot Mulroney, Juliette Lewis

The dark, hilarious, and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. Rated R

 

 

APRIL 15

philomenaPhilomena – Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Sophie Kennedy Clark

In 1952, a young Philomena was sent to the convent of Roscrea in Ireland after giving birth to her first child. When her son became a toddler, the nuns sent him to America for adoption. Philomena then spent the next fifty years seeking for him in vain. Rated PG-13

 

 

secret life of walter mittySecret Life of Walter Mitty – Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, John Daly, Gary Wilmes

Watch the classic story by James Thurber, about a daydreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance, and action. When his job along with that of his co-worker are threatened, Walter takes action in the real world embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined. Rated PG

 

flowers in the atticFlowers in the Attic – Ellen Burstyn, Heather Graham, Kiernan Shipka, Mason Dye, Dylan Bruce

A gothic story of four siblings who, after the death of their father, are torn from a peaceful life and subjected to abuse resulting from a dark family secret. Abandoned by their mother and forced to endure unimaginable treatment living in the attic of their grandparents’ mansion, the children form their own family unit. But as the oldest boy and girl come of age, they are entrapped by their family’s sordid past as they try to survive and escape the harsh living conditions.

APRIL 29

47 ronin47 Ronin – Keanu Reeves, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ko Shibasaki

Kai is an outcast who joins Oishi, the leader of 47 outcast samurai. Together they seek vengeance upon the treacherous overlord who killed their master and banished their kind. They embark upon a quest that challenges them with a series of trials that would destroy ordinary warriors. Rated PG-13

 

 

legend of herculesThe Legend of Hercules – Kellan Lutz, Gaia Weiss, Scott Adkins

In ancient Greece, 1200 B.C., a queen succumbs to the lust of Zeus to bear a son promised to overthrow the tyrannical rule of the king and restore peace to a land in hardship. But this prince, Hercules, knows nothing of his real identity or his destiny. He desires only one thing: the love of Hebe, Princess of Crete, who is promised to his brother. When Hercules learns of his greater purpose, he must choose: to flee with his true love or fulfill his destiny and become the true hero of his time. Rated PG-13

 

gimme shelterGimme Shelter – Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser, James Earl Jones

Based on inspiring true events, a teenage girl flees life with her drug-addicted mother to find the wealthy father she’s never known. Tells the extraordinary and courageous tale of one girl’s fight against the odds to find redemption and, ultimately, to create a family she can call her own. Rated PG-13

 

 

printmaking bookImagine sending a thank you note on beautiful stationery you made yourself. Or decorating your kitchen with an imaginative print that you created. Or even accenting your bedroom with cushions that have your “stamp” of inventiveness.

The Print Making Book is a complete introduction to the art of hand printing, a technique used for creating all kinds of interesting and useful items for in and around the home. Crafters will be guided through a plethora of techniques that include relief-, screen- and mono- printing – all using tools and materials that are easy to source and use at home in your kitchen, bathroom, or garden. There are easy-to-use templates, step-by-step illustrations, and full-color photography throughout. Vanessa Mooncie’s beautiful original designs include printed greetings cards, crockery, cushions, bag, plus many more inspirational projects for fashion and home.

With 23 projects in all, covering items for the home, clothing, and accessories, The Print Making Book will show how to create artwork that is truly display-worthy. (description from publisher)

ping pongThe spring of 1971 heralded the greatest geopolitical realignment in a generation. After twenty-two years of antagonism, China and the United States suddenly moved toward a détente achieved not by politicians but by Ping-Pong players.

The Western press delighted in the absurdity of the moment and branded it “Ping-Pong Diplomacy.” But for the Chinese, Ping-Pong was always political, a strategic cog in Mao Zedong’s foreign policy. Nicholas Griffin proves that the organized game, from its first breath, was tied to Communism thanks to its founder, Ivor Montagu, son of a wealthy English baron and spy for the Soviet Union. Ping-Pong Diplomacy traces a crucial inter-section of sports and society. Griffin tells the strange and tragic story of how the game was manipulated at the highest levels; how the Chinese government helped cover up the death of 36 million peasants by holding the World Table Tennis Championships during the Great Famine; how championship players were driven to their deaths during the Cultural Revolution; and, finally, how the survivors were reconvened in 1971 and ordered to reach out to their American counterparts.

Through a cast of eccentric characters, from spies to hippies and Ping-Pong-obsessed generals to atom-bomb survivors, Griffin explores how a neglected sport was used to help realign the balance of worldwide power. (description from publisher)

After the winter we’ve had – are still having! – it’s hard to believe that it’s actually, finally spring but as of yesterday, it’s true. And spring means it’s time to start planning your garden and flower beds – it’ll be green again before you know it. Really! Here are some of our latest books to inspire you.

plantifulPlantiful: start small, grow big with 150 plants that spread, self-sow and overwinter by Kristin Green –  Plantiful shows you how to have an easy, gorgeous garden packed with plants by simply making the right choices. Kristen Green highlights plants that help a garden quickly grow by self-sowing and spreading and teaches you how to expand the garden and extend the life of a plant by overwintering. Discover the perfect the art of editing, share the wealth, and learn for yourself that gardeners don’t have to dig deep to grow a lively, plentiful, and colorful garden year-round.

grow more with lessGrow More with Less by Vincent Simeone – Put your best foot forward in creating an efficient, sustainable home landscape. From composting and mulching to planting trees, author Vincent Simeone covers all the eco-friendly essentials in one straightforward handbook. Simeone makes the what, how, and why of sustainable gardening unmistakably clear: why we should plant for the long-term, how to make the best plant selections possible, how to manage invasive species, how to make the most of your lawn (regardless of its size), the importance of IPM (integrated pest management) in fighting insects and pests, how to conserve water with proper irrigation, installing rain barrels and cisterns, and more.

wildlife friendlyThe Wildlife Friendly Vegetable Gardener  by Tammi Hartung – This one-of-a-kind book shows you how to create a peaceful co-existence between your vegetable garden and the wildlife who consider it part of their habitat. By understanding and working with the surrounding environment – instead of continually fighting it – you’ll reap a larger harvest with much less stress and effort. Tammi Hartung explains how to start with a hardy and healthy garden, create beneficial relationships through smart planting, attract helpful insects and pollinators, intentionally create habitats for wildlife, and much more.

attracting beneficial bugsAttracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden by Jessica Walliser – It may seem counterintuitive to want bugs in a garden, but insects are indeed valuable garden companions. Especially those species known for eating the bugs that eat plants. Assassin bugs, damsel bugs, and predatory stink bugs are all carnivores that devour the bugs that dine on a garden. This complete, hands-on guide is for anyone looking for a new, natural, and sustainable way to control pests.

woodenWooden is a provocative and revelatory new biography of the legendary UCLA coach John Wooden, by one of America’s top college basketball writers

No college basketball coach has ever dominated the sport like John Wooden. His UCLA teams reached unprecedented heights in the 1960s and ’70s capped by a run of ten NCAA championships in twelve seasons and an eighty-eight-game winning streak, records that stand to this day. Wooden also became a renowned motivational speaker and writer, revered for his “Pyramid of Success.”

Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated and CBS Sports has written the definitive biography of Wooden, an unflinching portrait that draws on archival research and more than two hundred interviews with players, opponents, coaches, and even Wooden himself. Davis shows how hard Wooden strove for success, from his All-American playing days at Purdue through his early years as a high school and college coach to the glory days at UCLA, only to discover that reaching new heights brought new burdens and frustrations. Davis also reveals how at the pinnacle of his career Wooden found himself on questionable ground with alumni, referees, assistants, and even some of his players. His was a life not only of lessons taught, but also of lessons learned. Woven into the story as well are the players who powered Wooden’s championship teams – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton, Walt Hazzard, and others – many of whom speak frankly about their coach. The portrait that emerges from Davis’s remarkable biography is of a man in full, whose life story still resonates today. (description from publisher)

stacks of booksWhoa – last week’s quote was a bit of a downer. Did you recognize which complicated Russian novel it was from? Let’s lighten things up a bit – after all, spring starts this week! – and go with something fun.

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink”.

Now how could you not want to read this book after an opening line like that? If you’re not sure of the title and want to track it down you can find the answer here.

adventuresCity and suburb dwellers sometimes dream about what it would be like to live on a country farm and raise animals. Adventures in Yarn Farming invites readers to participate vicariously in the daily life of a working sheep farm without ever having to muck out a barn, be chased by a recalcitrant ram, or lift a hay bale.

Told through the eyes of veteran shepherd and textile artisan, Barbara Parry’s stories follow her flock over the course of a year, showing all the facets of life connected to sheep and making yarn. Readers get a front-row seat to the sheep show – tending sheep on winter mornings, shearing day, the round-the-clock chaos of lambing season, preparing fiber for yarn – and a visit to Barbara’s dye studio, where she colorfully transforms skeins for hand-knit creations. With the growing locavore movement, the rising eco-friendly trend in sustainable farming, and the ever-increasing interest in crafting, this book is relevant on many fronts. It will draw readers who yearn for a closer connection with a rural lifestyle and who enjoy making things by hand. Through 13 projects, as well as sidebars and side excursions, readers get a slice of life on a New England farm. (description from publisher)

year of holidaysRee Drummond—accidental country girl, award-winning blogger, Food Network personality, and #1New York Times bestselling author—presents The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays, a fantastic collection of recipes, photos, and homespun humor to help you celebrate all through the year.

Ree shows you how to ring in your favorite holidays with inspired menus for breakfasts, brunches, lunches, dinners, parties, deliveries, and feasts, accompanied by fun instructions and hundreds of her signature step-by-step photos. Filled with creative and flavorful ideas for intimate dinners, group gatherings, and family meals, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays includes dozens of mouthwatering dishes (with nineteen recipes for Thanksgiving alone!), helping home cooks create a variety of delights.

Whip up a Resolution Smoothie on New Year’s Day; Whiskey BBQ Sliders and Dr Pepper Cupcakes for The Big Game; Glazed Ham for Easter; Watermelon Sangria for a sizzling Fourth of July cookout; and perfect Popcorn Balls on Halloween. For Christmas, Ree includes special homemade treats, including Caramel Apple Rolls, Christmas Rum Cake, and a selection of smile-inducing cookies, perfect for Christmas deliveries to family and friends.

Enjoy holidays all year ’round…Pioneer Woman style! (description from publisher)