A Touch of StardustA Touch of Stardust  by Kate Alcott is a novel about the filming of the movie, Gone With the Wind.

Fictional character Julie Crawford is new to Hollywood and is pursuing a career as a screenwriter. A female screenwriter is a rare thing in 1938 Hollywood so she gets a job working at Selznick International studios to earn some money. Julie’s first day on the job is the first day of filming Gone With the Wind. The first scene of GWTW that was filmed was the burning of Atlanta. Producer David O. Selznick decided to burn down old movie sets in order to make room for the new GWTW sets. At this point in time, Selznick had not cast the role of Scarlett O’Hara. The front runner for the role, Paulette Goddard, has not been able to convince Selznick that she is right for the part. Julie has been given a message to give to Mr. Selznick but she cannot get near him due to the crowds and the fire department keeping her away. When she finally finds David Selznick, he promptly fires Julie for giving him the message too late. The note told him that actress Vivien Leigh would be visiting the set and that she was interested in playing the lead, Scarlett O’Hara. Selznick had been talking to Vivien Leigh for the past hour.

Actress Carole Lombard takes pity on Julie and hires her as her personal assistant. Julie now has a front seat to the developing romantic relationship between Carole Lombard and actor Clark Gable, who stars in Gone With the Wind as Rhett Butler. Julie is constantly in Carole’s movie set trailer signing autographs for the actress or at Carole’s house helping her with a project. Carole Lombard becomes a true friend to Julie. She advises Julie on life and the way that Hollywood works. Carole and Clark even invite Julie to dinner at their home. Julie also spends a lot of time with David O. Selznick’s fictional assistant, Andy. Andy invites Julie to come on set and watch scenes being filmed. She witnesses Vivien Leigh’s first day on set, the siege of Atlanta and  the desolation of Tara among other scenes.

Another aspect of the story is the growing tension in Europe. The film industry was trying to ignore the growing war overseas. Some people in Hollywood believed that the war should be addressed while others thought that a war movie would bomb at the box office. Julie’s boyfriend Andy is Jewish. He has family in Germany that he worries about. Julie’s parents would not want her dating Andy because he is Jewish which is a source of tension between the pair. Along with that tension, the African American community has reservations about the making of the movie GWTW.

70th Anniversary Edition of Gone With the Wind

70th Anniversary Edition of Gone With the Wind DVD

A Touch of Stardust is a coming of age novel about friendship and relationships centered around the filming of Gone With the Wind. Author Kate Alcott’s late husband, Frank Mankiewicz, grew up in a film family (his father was a screenwriter and his uncle was a director) and shared many stories about Old Hollywood with Alcott. Included in the novel are stories about what it was like on the movie set and working for David O. Selznick.

A Touch of Stardust is available in print and in audiobook.

 

TaxiI’ve been driving the Mom Taxi at least twice a day for the past ten years and getting my fares—I mean, kids—into the car on time has been something of a struggle, especially on school mornings.

But one day, I forgot to stop the audiobook I’d been playing on my way to pick them up and we listened to it on the way home. The next morning, both kids were up and ready as quickly as I could have wished, asking if I was going to let them listen to more.

How could I say no?

I did say no to portions of it; I’d checked out Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie, which is fantastically funny and has a manic-depressive beagle in it, but is still an adult romance.  I occasional had to lunge at the fast-forward button in the effort to avoid questions  for which I wanted more preparation time (say, ten to twelve years) to answer.

The kids still enjoyed it—partly because of the lunging, I suspect—and after the book was done, they asked if I could get another audiobook.

This time, tired of fast-forwarding (and rewinding after I’d dropped them off), I headed for the children’s section. All the branches of the Davenport Public library have audiobooks that appeal to my second-grader and others that appeal to my pre-teen.

It was trickier to find ones that would appeal to all of us.

Knights Tales Collection - MorrisEnter The Knights‘ Tales collection, written by Gerald Morris and read by award-winning voice artist Steve West.

The four tales included on the five CDs are about the adventures of Sir Lancelot the Great (“He’s sooooo handsome!”), Sir Givret the Short (and his friend, Sir Eric the Not Too Bright), Sir Gawain the True (and his frenemy, the Green Knight), and Sir Balin the Ill-fated (whose mother just wants him to marry a “nice Nothern girl.”).

The main characters spend a lot of time getting into impossible situations that are unraveled by a piece of astoundingly simple logic. They’re funny and clever and twisty and very well-written.

Mr. Morris doesn’t talk down to his target audience (3rd to 6th grade) and his plots and intelligent, witty style won’t bore adults.   Mr. West uses an assortment of voices and accents that make even the minor characters—like the herald Harold, the argumentative Lady Elaine, and the Old Woman of Some Nonspecific Mountain—come to life.

These stories ensure that my kids are eager to get up and get going for the next installment—even on Mondays—and that our morning commutes are full of intent listening, predictions about what might happen next, and a lot of laughter.

For this Taxi Mom, that almost makes up for the dismal lack of tips.

Almost.

 

What Alice ForgotWhat Alice Forgot is a great novel for audio, due in large part to the wonderful narrator, Caroline Lee.

Lee’s lilting, open Australian accent is critical to understanding  Alice’s character. The 1998 Alice is wonderfully innocent, quirky and enthusiastically in love with her husband.

The 2008 amnesiac Alice, who is living ten years in the past, is, in her own mind, still that person. She gradually begins to put together the puzzle of her new identity. To the listener, it’s almost like a mystery. You wonder who the new Alice is and how she got that way. Like Alice,  you’re also relying on what people are telling Alice, and no more. Both Alice and the reader/listener are frustrated when it seems other people are withholding information.

Liane Moriarty’s breezy style keeps the story light, while delving into the darker sides of Alice and her family’s journey over the last decade. Life has gone on; there have been births, deaths and marriages. Alice confesses to her sister that she has no idea how to feed and take care of her children, or any children for that matter. She speculates that a diet of sausages would probably be popular.

Elizabeth, her older sister, is a great foil; she had always been Alice’s protector and support which allowed Alice to be the funny, spacey one. One of the mysteries is why they had grown apart. The many well-drawn characters make this rather long audiobook absorbing to the end.

I Remember NothingA key to good readers advisory is to be able to remember titles and authors.  One of my favorite audiobooks is I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron. The problem is that I can never remember this title. Not only do I keep checking it out, thinking I haven’t listened to it before,  I also fail to remember the title when I’m telling staff and patrons what a great Book-on-CD it is.

And it really is. Ephron read the book herself and she has a marvelous voice and impeccable timing.  Particularly interesting, I thought, were the stories about her early career in newspaper and magazine journalism. She isn’t shy about dishing about the legendary writers and publishers she worked with, whose names I can’t recall (except for Katie and Phil Graham of the Washington Post).

She also has some handy tricks for social situations in which names (or whether you, in fact, really know a person) escape you.

Recommendation:  check the box marked “Reading History” in your library account, and you’ll always have a record of what you’ve checked out.

 

deathofceasarBeware the Ides of March.  Do you know what this famous phrase means?

If you are a fan of William Shakespeare you will know that this phrase is from the play, Julius Caesar.  The soothsayer warns Julius Caesar that he will die on March 15.  While the phrase sounds ominous to us, it would not have sounded strange to Julius Caesar.  The Romans had different names for different days of the month.  If Caesar had received this warning, he would have just thought, “March 15h might be a bad day.”

The assassination of Julius Caesar is arguably the most famous assassination in world history.  On March 15, 44 B.C., Julius Caesar was murdered at the Theatre of Pompey.  The members of the Senate plotted to murder Caesar.  They surrounded him and stabbed Caesar to death.

But there is more to the story.  Author Barry Strauss just released his new book, The Death of Caesar: the Story of History’s Most Famous Assassination.  This new audiobook promises to shed new light on one of the most famous days in history.  Strauss details the key players and events that led to the assassination of Julius Caesar and he reveals a person that few people know about.  Decimus, one of Caesar’s generals and a lifelong friend, was a mole.  His betrayal was worse than the betrayal of Brutus.

The Davenport Public Library has a lot of information on Julius Caesar as well as William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar.  If you would like to learn more, talk to one of our reference librarians today.

 

book headphonesDid you make a New Year’s Resolution to read more books? Are you already struggling to find time to read to a book?  If so, you might want to try audiobooks.

Many Davenport library users have made comments about how they can listen to audiobooks while doing other things.  Some people listen to them in the car while others say they listen to audiobooks while cleaning the house.

The Davenport Public Library offers different audiobook options. You can come to the library and check out CD or MP3 audiobooks. The library also offers Playaways. Playaways are devices that have an audiobook already recorded on it. All you have to do is plug in your headphones and listen! They are small enough that you can put them in your pocket.

If you don’t have time to come to the library, you can download audiobooks from home. One Click Digital is an online resource that offers eAudiobooks to download. RiverShare Digital Library offers both eAudiobooks and eBooks to download.

To learn more about downloading audiobooks, visit the e-Books & More section of our website.

 

 

 

ocdnew_top2Taking a long trip this summer?  Check out a great resource available to you from the Davenport Public Library.  We are pleased to offer Recorded Books OneClickdigital, an online service that allows patrons to download a wide range of audiobooks, including best-sellers, Recorded Books exclusives, classics, selections for children and young adults and much more.

Davenport Public Library patrons have free access at home or on the go!  The titles are all multi-access, so there is no need to place any holds.  OneClickdigital is compatible with all popular listening devices and mobile apps are available for iPhone, Android and Kindle Fire.  OneClickdigital features an easy-to-use interface with streamlined navigation, fast downloads and automatic software updates.  Free technical support is available too!

Visit www.davenportlibrary.com and click on “eBooks & More” for access to Recorded Books OneClickdigital or contact the Reference Department for more information.

Book of Madness and cures

For Dr. Gabriella Mondini, there is no other option besides following in her father’s footsteps into a life of medicine in Regina O’Melveny’s debut, The Book of Madness and Cures.  She is passionate about healing the citizens of Venice. For a woman residing in this part of the word in the late 16th Century this proves to be a challenging feat.  In the male dominated Italian medical society, Gabriella gains credibility with her father’s colleagues by assisting him with research on “The Book of Diseases.”

A few years prior, Gabriella’s father, the elder Dr. Mondini, disappeared unexpectedly with only an occasional letter as to his whereabouts.  In addition to the sporadic correspondence, his writings are cryptic and give little clue to Gabriella and her mother of his condition, which has a tendency to gravitate toward madness.  With the prospect of continuing her medical career in jeopardy without her father’s guidance, Gabriella, her maid and a few additional servants embark on a journey to solve the mystery of what happened to her father.  The journey takes them across Europe to France, Germany, England, Spain and south to the tip of Morocco, all the while encountering danger while traveling and encountering locals who met her father and are able to provide clues to the group of travelers.

While in Morocco, Gabriella finds out the shocking truth about her father, his nearly completed book on diseases and her own future.  O’Melveny’s debut provides a rich look at late 16th century day to day life, the logistics of cross continent travels and the lives of women during this time.

Here are more Best Books of 2012 as chosen by our blogging librarians. Be sure to look check yesterdays blog post for other winners!

cold cold groundHere’s Lynn’s pick: “In The Cold, Cold Ground, Detective Sean Duffy is a Catholic cop in a a heavily Protestant town near Belfast during the height of The Troubles. Duffy is an appealingly sarcastic, yet idealistic narrator. Irish author Adrian McKinty grew up in that time and place, and the small details of everyday life during that turbulent time are fascinating and authentic”.

 

twenties girl

 

 

Maggie choose the audiobook of Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella, read by Rosalyn Landor. “A near-perfect audiobook! Compelling and snappy, so you stay interested on your commute, but not so dense that hearing it in short spurts keeps you from enjoying it. Fun characters, saucy dialog and plenty of romance and mystery.” Maggie blogged more about it here.

book thiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak is Lexie’s winner. “Death himself narrates the story of a young girl growing up in World War II era Germany with her foster parents, who are hiding a Jewish man in their basement. Zusak’s descriptive writing makes the story come alive; I don’t think I’ve highlighted so many beautifully written passages in one book in a very long time. It feels very fitting that the novel is all about the power of words, because Zusak’s writing had me completely captivated from beginning to end”.

There’s one more book in our list of Best Books of 2012 – read all about it tomorrow!

With my interest in country music and the classic groups, I found this book fascinating. It is the fictionalized story of the Browns, two sisters and their brother, who sound was called Nashville Chrome. At the height of their fame, this singing trio was second only to Elvis, and even the Beatles shared a few jam sessions with their idols. Have you ever heard of the Browns? I hadn’t.

The focus of Nashville Chrome is Maxine, the eldest sibling, and the novel goes back and forth in time sweeping over her childhood in Poplar Creek, the tough years on the road singing and recording, to a decrepit old age living on social security when a trip to Piggly Wiggly represents a major expedition. Maxine is the driving force behind the trio–the one who takes their singing career so much more seriously, but perhaps that’s because for her, the stakes are so much higher.

Bass’s style underscores the mythic qualities of the tale, for while the Browns’ story is true, at times it almost seems too fantastic to be anything less than fiction. Fate repeatedly seems to intervene in lives marked by the highs and lows of incredibly bad luck and amazing strokes of good fortune.