Even if you haven’t actually started your holiday shopping yet, it is bound to be on your mind. Shopping for the holidays can be very stressful, especially when you are shopping for someone that has everything. If you have teenagers, maybe you aren’t sure what’s really “in” right now. Budgets are always a factor too. If you have a lot of people on your list, you may be looking for great gifts that don’t break the bank. There are many resources available to help shoppers find great gift ideas. The best part is, you don’t have to leave home to find them.

Let’s talk about a database called Zinio. Zinio is a magazine internet database that is free for Davenport library card holders. All you need is your library card number and you can create a free account. Once your account is created, you can check out magazines and read them online in your browser.  This database is a no limit, permanent check out. Which means you can check out as many as you like and keep them for as long as you like.

More and more libraries are subscribing to this database. If you are a patron of a different library, check with your library to see if they subscribe. Below are some of the magazines available right now through this database. Not only are there tons of gift ideas inside, but it is a one stop holiday destination. To get started browsing magazines, click here.

If you are just looking for some quick ideas, check out the links below.

For Him... Top 25 Gifts for Him    Gifts for Boyfriend    Top 32 Gifts for Men this 2015 Holiday Season

For HerBest Christmas Gifts for Her in 2015    100 Best Christmas Gifts for Women 2015    Gifts for Her

For TeensGifts for Teens    Best Christmas Gifts for Tweens

Gift Guides for EveryonePopsugar Gift Guide    2015 Holiday Gift Guide    Zumiez Holiday Gift Guide

Gifts that won’t break the bank…Unique Gifts Under $25    Cool Gifts Under $10

boys in the boatIt’s hard to imagine now, in the relative comfort of our modern age, the devastation and poverty brought about by the Great Depression. The combination of a crashing economy and violent weather destroyed lives and businesses. People lost their livelihoods, their homes, their families – it was not unusual for parents to abandon or leave one or more children to other family members or orphanages. To live through this time would inevitably shape and influence a person for the rest of their lives. The Boys in the Boat brings this era and the people who lived it vividly to life.

The Boys in the Boat focuses primarily on Joe Rantz, one of the boys who will become part of the team that goes to the Olympics. Dirt poor, abandoned by his family when he was a teen, he was representative of the make-up of this group of rowers. Scrapping for everything they had, they were unafraid of hard work and impossible challenges. Being part of the rowing team allowed Joe to attend the University of Washington but it also gave him a family – teammates, coaches, supporters – of like-minded, honest people and it opened up the world to him.

The rowing team comes together and coalesces over the four years leading up to the Olympics. They raise the previously dismissed Washington rowing team to a contender, beating their rivals at the University of California Berkeley and then the East Coast giants of the Ivy League to earn the right to represent the United States at the Olympics. Most of these boys had never been out of the state of Washington – some not outside of Seattle – before they began going to rowing competitions with the team and now they were headed to Europe. It was almost unimaginable.

When I read this book I was surprised by how much of a page turner it was – I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. The gritty details of living through the Great Depression made the story come alive and the story of the Berlin Olympics – so carefully planned (and rigged) by Hitler and the Nazis was eyeopening, an early warning sign (if it hadn’t been carefully hidden by the Nazis) of the horror to come.

Filled with amazing stories both humorous and heartbreaking, peopled with vivid, unforgettable characters and set against the backdrop of great historical events all seen through the lens of the sublimely beautiful sport of rowing, The Boys in the Boat is a must read. Highly recommended.

 

making of the mobIn The Making of the Mob: New York, AMC has created an eight-part docu-drama series that begins in 1905 and traces the rise of the American Mafia for over fifty years. This series examines the lives of Charles “Lucky” Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, Frank Costello, Vito Genovese, and several other notorious gangsters as they all struggle for power when the mafia starts becoming more organized. The amount of attention to detail that went into the establishment of the five major heads of the family, also known as the Commission, and Murder, Inc., the group of Jewish hitmen who killed around 1,000 people in ten years, shows that the new mobsters rising up in the ranks were definitely looking to run the mafia as more of a business with set consequences and an elected representative board.

This docu-drama looks into the five main families of the American Mafia and goes into great detail showing how organized crime came to exist and flourish in America. What I found to be the most intriguing part of this series was that it included interviews from former politicians, mobsters, actors, and other influential people, as well as actual archival footage  and sound recordings of the actual mobsters alongside the actors’ dramatic interpretations of what was happening. The inclusion of actual footage and interviews really drew me into this docu-drama and had me fully invested in the lives of the mobsters, the shady deals they were doing, and the specific individuals and governmental organizations who were working to bring down the American mafia.

the goddess of buttercups and daisiesDo you like reading about ancient gods and goddesses like Aphrodite, Athena, Zeus, etc? I know I do. One thing I found lacking when I was reading about them was that there was never any story about their day-to-day lives. Sure, everyone knows the Athena sprung whole out of her father Zeus’ head after he swallowed her mother to try to keep her from being born, that Aphrodite rose full-formed out of the sea foam, and that Zeus was a philandering God who had many different girlfriends and illegitimate children despite the fact that he was married to Hera, the goddess of weddings and marriage, but what about their everyday lives?? Martin Millar has attempted to tackle this question in his new book, The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies.

In The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies, Martin Millar looks at both the daily life of the gods and goddesses, but also at the lives of the people who relied on them to make their lives work. (Admittedly more attention is paid to the citizens than to the gods, but interesting tidbits and stories are thrown in for good measure.) In this fantasy epic, the lives of Athenian citizens are in dire straits as the city is in its 10th year of war with Sparta. In hopes to end the war, a peace conference is being held around the time of the festival of Dionysus, the Greek god of fertility and wine who was also known as a patron of the arts.

Aristophanes is struggling to get the necessary funds to guarantee his play’s success and to make up for the fact that he didn’t win first prize at last year’s festival. His rival playwrights are receiving any and everything they could possibly want, while the politicians and festival sponsors seem to be conspiring to make sure his play fails gigantically. One group in town wants peace, while the other group wants war to continue. Aristophanes’ play about peace will never succeed without money, so he is forced to make some deals with some less-than-reputable people in town. Add in various people praying to the gods and asking for help and soon Athens finds itself the center of attention of some meddlesome gods who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the outcome they desire.

This funny, compelling, and witty adventure into the lives of average Athenian citizens and the gods they turn to for help will have you eagerly turning the page to see what destruction and mayhem could possibly come next.

black-fridayAs Thanksgiving and the inevitable Black Friday shopping day nears, I found myself wondering how this shopping frenzy all began. I scoured the internet for as many sources as I could find that would tell me not only when Americans started shopping in masses the day after Thanksgiving, but why. Most importantly, how did that day get the name Black Friday? The answers to these questions are not so cut and dry as one might think.

We begin our journey during the Civil War on October 3rd, 1863. President Abraham Lincoln announces that the United States will officially celebrate Thanksgiving as a national holiday, and that this holiday will be held on the 4th Thursday of November each year. The first Thanksgiving was thus celebrated on November 26, 1863. As Thanksgiving falls on November 26th this year, we will be celebrating 152 years of tradition to the day.

By the early 1920’s, several retailers sponsored parades to celebrate this national holiday. In 1924 Macy’s held their first Thanksgiving Day Parade. At the end of each parade came Santa Claus and officially marked the beginning of the holiday season. It became wide practice that retailers would not advertise Christmas sales until after the conclusion of Thanksgiving. With such a hard fast unwritten rule in place, the day after Thanksgiving quickly became the day to shop for the holidays and be the first to see all the specials.

As time went on, shopping on the day after Thanksgiving increased in popularity. Many businesses treated the day after Thanksgiving as a holiday in itself. Even school was not held on this day. However there were some groups of workers that were forced into working the day after Thanksgiving each year. In as early as 1951, business owners were using the term ‘Black Friday’ to refer to the number of employees to call in sick the day after Thanksgiving.

Philadelphia is more widely credited with boosting the popularity of the phrase during the 1960’s. Things were particularly troublesome the day after Thanksgiving as police were forced into working twelve hour shifts and crowds filled the streets. According to snopes.com, “the term ‘Black Friday’ came out of the old Philadelphia Police Department’s traffic squad. The cops used it to describe the worst traffic jams which annually occurred in Center City on the Friday after Thanksgiving.” During the 1980’s, retailers began using the phrase in association with the big shopping day to signify when their red (negative or loss) accounting book entries turned to black (positive or profits). By the 90’s retailers were using the term in advertising for holiday specials and sales taking place the day after Thanksgiving.

In the early 2000’s retailers began opening their doors earlier and earlier. In 2011, several major retailers announced they would open doors at midnight. The next year, Walmart opened their doors at 8:00 PM Thanksgiving Day. Today stores are opening as early as 5 PM on Thanksgiving Day. With this new trend, I can’t help but wonder how long we will continue to call it Black Friday?

Will you be out shopping on Black Friday or clicking on computer keys enjoying cyber deals from the comfort of your own home? Perhaps you will be boycotting the holiday by remaining firmly on your couch digesting those delicious holiday foods. If you are one of the hard working Americans that will be taking up a post directing traffic or ringing up items, I thank you and wish you a happy day after the day after Thanksgiving.

water divinerActors taking a turn behind the camera as directors or producers has become increasingly more common. Russell Crowe has joined the ranks of such actors with the 2014 film, The Water Diviner, in which he both stars and directs this Australian historical fictional war drama.

In The Water Diviner, Crowe stars as Australian farmer Joshua Connor, who lives in Australia on a working farm with his wife and their three sons. After the unexpected death of his wife, Connor heads to Turkey in 1919 after the Battle of Gallipoli in order to find his three missing and presumed dead sons in order to bring their bodies home to be buried next to their mother. Connor repeatedly finds obstacles thrown in his way that bar his ability to, at first, make it to Gallipoli and then to get the officials there to even help him find his son. Facing tension from the military and different governmental agencies while abroad, as well as discrimination in Turkey from the locals who see him as the reason why their family and friends didn’t come home from the war, Connor soon realizes that everyone and everything around him has drastically changed from the war and that he must find a way to survive.. Finding his sons becomes Connor’s driving force through life, leading him to discover things that he is not quite ready to know.


This movie is loosely based on the book The Water Diviner by Andrew Anastasios and Dr. Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios. Check out the following books to learn more about the Battle of Gallipoli.

the water diviner bookturning the tide of wargallipoliworld war 1the anzac girlseden to armageddon

 

 

step aside popsStep Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection is Kate Beaton’s third published book of comics, but fourth overall. (Other ones by Beaton that the library owns are Hark! A Vagrant and The Princess and the Pony.) This new graphic novel is a collection of strips from her webcomic, Hark! A Vagrant. Webcomics are generally self-published online and are sometimes even published into books or as single strips in magazines or newspapers depending upon their popularity.

In Step Aside, Pops, Beaton takes a turn at digging into the lives of various literary, historical, and contemporary figures and characters. Think of this graphic novel as a collection of Beaton’s musings and ideas about different people throughout history. Her obvious love of all things literature, historical, and pop culture related flow through this graphic novel as she dissects the lives of Wonder Woman, what it was really like to be a peasant in a time of no medicine or deodorant, and how different famous Alexanders handled rough situations throughout time. Crack open this graphic novel and you’ll see how Beaton reimagines the lives of Achilles, the founding fathers when they find themselves in a shopping mall, and even how Cinderella would have played out if she had been a bodybuilder.

killjoysIn The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, Better Living Industries, a megacorporation with a ruthless and tyrannical leader, is working to take over more of the world and to cut off the freedoms and emotions of everyone living on the planet. This has been going on for years with revolutionaries and groups popping up every now and then trying to save what they can of the life they used to live and the people that they used to know. A group of four said revolutionaries became THE group of revolutionaries in this world with their likenesses splattered all over the news. Sadly over ten years ago, they were all killed while trying to save the life of a mysterious young girl that Better Living Industries, aka BLI, was trying to kill. This young girl becomes one of the main subject lines of The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. Follow along as the Girl works to figure out why BLI tried to kill her, what BLI is doing to all the defunct robots around the world, how these rogue groups are surviving and getting their news, and how the system BLI has set up is really affecting the civilized people in the world and how BLI is able to control the world and its employees.

The writers, Gerard Way and Shaun Simon, along with artist Becky Cloonan, have crafted a very strange, mysterious, and science fiction heavy graphic novel that is rich in details and colors that pop into your subconscious as you follow along with the characters. This graphic novel does not have a traditional linear structure, in the sense that readers will have to pay attention to context and art clues to figure out the difference between the past and the present, but the ideas presented are so intriguing and seemingly plausible that the quick transitions between past and present and also between different characters’ storylines only serve to add to the complex and supremely creative nature of this graphic novel. I highly recommend reading through this graphic novel more than once.

pixels  I admit, after watching this movie, I do not know if anyone that was born after 1985 would enjoy this movie.  Maybe they would if they like to play old arcade games when they come across one.  But playing an arcade version of Pac Man at Happy Joes is nothing like going to an actual arcade and being surrounded by various games and players. But I digress.

If you do remember going to the arcade and playing games such as Donkey Kong you will find the movie Pixels enjoyable.  No, it will not win any Oscars but it is a fun movie to watch.  Starring Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Kevin James and Josh Gad, this fearless foursome were the some of the top arcade game players back in the day.  The movie opens in 1982 with Brenner and Eddie facing off for the championship.  At the time, a time capsule is launched into space containing various things including video games.

Fast forward to the present year.  Aliens attack a U.S. military base in Guam.  The attack came from creatures that looked similarly to the old video game Galaga.  Cooper is the current President of the United States and he calls his old friend Brenner for help.  The aliens have sent messages to Earth. They received the time capusle from 1982 and they viewed it as a declaration of war.  The aliens have sent video games in the form of pixels to attack Earth.  In order to survive, Earth has to win three rounds of classic video game attacks.  A second attack happens at the Taj Mahal in India before the U.S. is able to react.

Brenner and Ludlow train a group of soldiers to fight the video games.  The key to defeating the game is knowing the pattern.  When a third attack happens in London, the soldiers, Brenner and Ludlow fight off the alien video game version of Centipede. Even the soldiers tried, it is Brenner and Ludlow that save the day.  The fourth game is in New York City and the game is Pac Man.  In order to defeat this game, they are going to need four ghosts.  This is where Peter Dinklage comes into the movie.  The fourth ghost is played by Pac Man creator Toru Iwatani.  Watching a giant Pac Man chomp down the streets of New York is a visual experience I never expected to see.  Eventually Pac Man is defeated until the aliens send a message that one of the ghosts cheated.

The next attack is in Washington, D.C.  And this time, it is not just one game.  It is ALL the video game characters attacking Earth.  For Earth to win, the game Donkey Kong has to be defeated.  Even President Cooper joins the action and fights the aliens.

Before you watch Pixels, you should watch the documentary, The King of Kong: a Fistful of Quarters.  Unemployed school teacher Steve Wiebe has a Donkey Kong, Jr arcade game.  He spendkongs a lot of time playing it.  He looks up the high score for Donkey Kong, and thinks to himself that he can beat that score.  So Steve Wiebe goes after Billy Mitchell’s high score for Donkey Kong.  You may think that no movie about a Donkey Kong score could be interesting to watch.  But you would be wrong.  Apparently, those high scores still matter to a lot of people.  It is an intense experience watching Wiebe go after the high score.  I mention this documentary because you will quickly notice the similarities between these characters and the main characters in Pixels.

 

tomorrowlandDisney never seems to disappoint when it comes to instilling a set of values and convictions into any movie and Tomorrowland, a film starring George Clooney as disheartened former boy genius Frank and Britt Robertson as optimistic reckless science-geek Casey, lives up to the Disney promise of hope by showing viewers that anything is possible as long as you can dream it.

In Tomorrowland, we’re introduced to Frank Walker, a young genius who brings his idea for a jet pack to the New York World’s Fair in the 1960s where he bumps into the mysterious Athena, a child seemingly monitoring the inventions table in the hall, who slips him a pin with the letter “T” on it that ends up changing Frank’s life forever. Flash forward to present day and we see Casey Newton, a teenage girl with a quick mind and a NASA engineer father who will be put out of a job if NASA succeeds in the demolition of the rocket launch platform in Cape Canaveral. Discovering a “T” pin of her own, Casey finds herself on a journey to figure out where exactly this pin is taking her and why she was given one. Join Casey and Frank as they rocket through space and are transported to a place called Tomorrowland, where letting your imagination loose is encouraged and where adventure awaits as long as you believe anything can happen.