woman in gold

Restitution claims resulting in the Nazi seizure of artwork, jewelry, money, furniture, etc., are upwards of billions of dollars with successful returning of stolen materials becoming more of the exception than the norm. Settlement agreements or restitution of any kind was opposed by many governments and sometimes even neglected until after the Cold War when the extent of both the worth and amount of objects seized became more widely known. The signing of the Washington Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art in 1998 by over forty countries set into motion the identification of confiscated art pieces and the subsequent restitution of the art pieces to the pre-war owners.

Having said this, I found Woman in Gold to be a dynamic and intriguing portrayal of an actual art restitution claim that began in the late 1990s. This movie stars Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann, a Jewish woman who was forced to flee Vienna during World War II and who left with nothing more than the clothes on her back. Sixty years later, she began the arduous journey to get back her own family possessions that the Nazis seized, even while they were still living in their apartment in Vienna. Among these possessions, and arguably the one that created the most scandal in Austria, was the painting by Gustav Klimt called “Adele Bloch-Bauer I” (aka “Woman in Gold”) that is a painting done of Maria Altmann’s aunt Adele. The Austrian government was not keen, to say the least, to just hand over the painting to Miss Altmann as it had become part of Austria’s heritage, even though it had been stolen from their family and not gifted as the government believes.

Ryan Reynolds plays as Maria Altmann’s attorney, Randy Schoenberg, a man who at first writes Altmann off and then becomes increasingly involved in this case, risking his job and family, and ultimately taking her case all the way to the Supreme Court. This movie is a fascinating look into the tangled and confusing web of restitution claims, governmental politics, and legal processes. It also perfectly highlights how the actual process of reclaiming something that was illegally taken from you can be incredibly difficult. Woman In Gold is only one story of successful art restitution, but with the release of this movie, the public is made more aware of the atrocities committed and objects stolen by the Nazis and just how complicated it is to get back something that is rightfully yours!


Interested in learning more about art restitution? Check out the following items below!

monuments men bookmonuments men dvdhitler's holy relicsrape of europasaving italythe venus fixershitler's art thiefthe lady in gold

citizenfourI have a guilty secret to share. Sometimes I go weeks without paying attention to the news, only checking the surface for sports scores or when a major event happens that is all over social media. As a result, when I’m busy or stressed, I can have no idea what is happening in the world outside my personal bubble. My news-watching habit was pointed out to me when I checked out the movie, Citizenfour, to watch one day.

The person on the cover didn’t look familiar, but the plot sounded promising: a behind-the-scenes look into privacy invasions by the NSA. I started watching and wondered continuously who this “Citizenfour” character was, a person conversing with director Laura Poitras and later with journalist Glenn Greenwald through incredibly encrypted and secure channels, one who was telling them that the secrets they had to share would blow the lid off of a huge governmental conspiracy.

Even when Poitras and Greendwald flew to Hong Kong to meet Citizenfour at the hotel room where he had been camping out, I still had no idea who he was, but the topic was fascinating. Hundreds upon thousands of classified documents that he had taken from his contracting job with the NSA that highlighted evidence of mass numbers of both indiscriminate and illegal privacy invasions that the NSA had perpetuated over many years. That tickled my brain. Things were starting to sound familiar. I then looked closer at the face on the screen. Edward Snowden! That’s what this was about.

Citizenfour follows Snowden’s decision to hand over thousands of classified documents that he gathered while being on loan to the NSA about many different secret programs and projects that the NSA and other governmental organizations had put together, as well as some information about the programs that other countries were a part of, all under the guise of surveillance after the tragedies of September 11th. What I found to be interesting about this documentary was that Snowden wanted the focus to be on the information contained within the classified documents and less on the person that was leaking them to the press, himself. The interactions between Snowden, Poitras, and the journalists that he came in contact with while in Hong Kong highlight the varying degrees of secrecy, intelligence gathering, and electronic surveillance that Snowden was seeking to expose to the world. Unplugging the hotel phone, hiding under a sheet to type in his password, talking through notes passed back and forth may seem to a passing person like signs of paranoia, but as Snowden highlights throughout this documentary, the government is capable of tapping into anything and everything, whether we choose to believe it or not.


If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, check out the materials below!

after snowdenno place to hide1971odyssey of an eavesdropperthe shadow factory

back in timeThis year was a big year for fans of the Back to the Future movie trilogy as we finally catch up with the future timeline in the films. Buzz has been all over the internet with folks comparing the movie’s predictions of life in 2015 with what has really happened. For the full list of movie comparisons versus reality, click here.

What seemed to get the most attention was predictions the movie made about the 2015 baseball season. According to Back to the Future II, the Chicago Cubs win the World Series in a sweep over Miami on October 21, 2015. Fast forward to the real 2015. With the start of the baseball pre-season, fans of both the movie and team began posting on Facebook that the Cubs were going to win the World Series this year. Considering the Cubs have not played in the World Series since 1945, let alone won since 1908, this seemed like more than a long shot. But…what if?  As the season went forward and the Cubs were looking better and better, more and more started to believe. When they beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS, even I started to believe (just for a tiny second). In the end, they couldn’t quite do it, but there was definitely some kind of magic in the city of Chicago during the 2015 season.

The Back to the Future franchise was ready for what they knew would be a great year to revive the 80’s trilogy. A  Back to the Future Anniversary Trilogy DVD set was released earlier this year and the entire Back to the Future cartoon series. Let me just say, I loved that show! Also out is a Back to the Future PS4 video game.

Hollywood has followed up on this hype by releasing a brand new documentary about the making of the movie trilogy. Cast, crew and fans are featured in this 30th anniversary tribute. Back in Time stars Steven Spielberg, Micheal J. Fox, and Lea Thompson. For those of you that love the franchise, this is a must see. Back in Time along with the other anniversary items are available at the library.

 

Featured new additions to DPL’s Science Fiction and Fantasy collections! Click on the title to place a hold. For more new books, visit our Upcoming Releases page. As always, if there’s a title you would like to read, please send us a purchase suggestion.

twilightcompanycover Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed – Twilight Company (men and women, human and nonhuman–of the Sixty-First Mobile Infantry) gives the Rebel Alliance’s hardest-fighting warriors a crucial chance to turn retreat into resurgence as they strike at the ultimate target: the very heart of the Empire’s military machine.
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Planetfall by Emma Newman – Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown. More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi. The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart.
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Word Puppets by Mary Robinette Kowal – Celebrated as the author of five acclaimed historical fantasy novels in the Glamourist series, Mary Robinette Kowal is also well-known as an award-winning author of short science fiction and fantasy. Her stories encompass a wide range of themes, a covey of indelible characters, and settings that span from Earth’s past to its near and far futures as well as even farther futures beyond. Alternative history, fairy tales, adventure, fables, science fiction (both hard and soft), fantasy (both epic and cozy)-nothing is beyond the reach of her unique talent.
Bowen_WakeofVultures-HC2 Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen – Nettie Lonesome lives in a land of hard people and hard ground dusted with sand. She’s a half-breed who dresses like a boy, raised by folks who don’t call her a slave but use her like one. She knows of nothing else. That is, until the day a stranger attacks her. When nothing, not even a sickle to the eye can stop him, Nettie stabs him through the heart with a chunk of wood, and he turns into black sand. And just like that, Nettie can see. But her newfound sight is a blessing and a curse. Even if she doesn’t understand what’s under her own skin, she can sense what everyone else is hiding — at least physically. The world is full of evil, and now she knows the source of all the sand in the desert. Haunted by the spirits, Nettie has no choice but to set out on a quest that might lead to her true kin… if the monsters along the way don’t kill her first.
51zz-siUuBL__SX332_BO1,204,203,200_ A Borrowed Man by Gene Wolfe – It is perhaps a hundred years in the future, our civilization is gone, and another is in place in North America, but it retains many familiar things and structures. Although the population is now small, there is advanced technology, there are robots, and there are clones. E. A. Smithe is a borrowed person. He is a clone who lives on a third-tier shelf in a public library, and his personality is an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer. A wealthy patron, Colette Coldbrook, takes him from the library because he is the surviving personality of the author of Murder on Mars. A physical copy of that book was in the possession of her murdered father, and it contains an important secret, the key to immense family wealth. It is lost, and Colette is afraid of the police. She borrows Smithe to help her find the book and to find out what the secret is. And then the plot gets complicated.
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If, Then by Matthew De Abaitua – In IF, the people of a small English town cling on after an economic collapse under the protection of the Process. But sometimes people must be evicted from the town. That’s the job of James, the bailiff. While on patrol, James discovers the replica of a soldier from the First World War wandering the South Downs. This strange meeting begins a new cycle of evictions in the town, while out on the rolling downland, the Process is methodically growing the soldiers and building the weapons required to relive a long-lost battle. In THEN, it is August 1915, at the Battle of Suvla Bay in the Dardanelles campaign. Compared to the thousands of allied soldiers landing on this foreign beach, the men of the 32nd Field Ambulance are misfits and cranks of every stripe: a Quaker pacifist, a freethinking padre, a meteorologist, and the private (once a bailiff) known simply as James.  One night they stumble across an ancient necropolis, disturbed by an exploding shell. What they discover within this ancient site will make them question the reality of the war and shake their understanding of what it means to be human…
9781481429689_custom-ed5e79b25fe333c54751dfc3c88f2639199f28ba-s400-c85 Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman – Inadvertently trained by the Devil to see the clues in and manipulations of human desire, sixteen-year-old Izzy is raised to be his left hand and travel circuit through his territory west of the Mississippi.

the objects of her affectionHow far would you be willing to go to keep your family together? To get your dream house? To provide a life for your children that you never had? Would you hunt for your dream job? Would you steal? Would you jeopardize your own future to make sure your children have whatever they want? All of these are questions that Sophie Potter has to deal with in Sonya Cobb’s new novel, The Objects of Her Affection.

In The Objects of Her Affection, Sophie finds herself home alone with two young children, wanting to give them the house and the childhood that she never had growing up. She bounced from apartment to apartment as a child, moving when her mother found new work. After her father figure died, her mother skipped town, leaving Sophie to fend for herself.

With her husband ensconced and buried within his work as a museum curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and with her own career at a standstill after the birth of their two children, Sophie finds herself floundering for support and yet in charge of all the bills and the family’s well-being. After she finds her dream house and convinces her husband of its potential worth, he leaves her in charge of figuring out the whole mortgage and loan business. After signing up for what she believes to be the best offer, Sophie soon realizes that that deal was too good to be true after notices and bills keep showing up at her door, she actually can’t afford the mortgage payment each month, and the business can’t track down who actually owns her loan.

Frustrated, she visits her husband at work to tell him about the mess she’s in and accidentally slips a piece of museum property in her purse. Not wanting to get him into trouble, she decides to sell the piece. Shocked at the amount of money she gets, Sophie sees that she can afford to keep up on all of the bills using that money without having to tell her husband about the mess she has put them in. Sneaking more objects out of her husband’s office gives her a thrill and a sense of satisfaction that she has been missing since the birth of her children, but once the museum realizes pieces are missing and the FBI comes to interview everyone, Sophie is forced to make a choice between telling the truth and keeping her dream afloat by stealing yet another museum piece. The Objects of Her Affection gives readers an up-close look at the lengths people will go through to keep their families together, just how dangerous keeping secrets can be, and how giving up is never an option.

paper townsJohn Green, the ever popular young adult author, has made yet another one of his novels into a movie and this time, it is Paper Towns, starring Cara Delevingne as the beguiling Margo Roth Spiegelman and Nat Wolff as Quentin, the boy who is hopelessly in love with Margo.

Paper Towns tells the story of Quentin, a boy who has been in love with his across-the-street neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, since she moved in, the event that he says is “THE moment” of his life. Quentin and Margo are best friends through childhood until they hit high school when Margo becomes a mysterious and enigmatic cool person who goes on wild adventures that everyone speculates wildly about. They essentially stop talking until about a month before prom when Margo suddenly shows up at his bedroom window in the middle of the night asking to borrow his parents’ car and needing his help to complete a list of somewhat peculiar “revenge” tasks. After this adventure, Quentin believes he and Margo have reached a new stage in their friendship only to discover that Margo has disappeared for what looks like good this time. Knowing that every time Margo disappears, she leaves clues, Quentin soon finds himself deciphering a stack of said mysterious clues that quickly result in he and all of his friends embroiled in an adventure to find out where the elusive Margo has disappeared to this time. This movie is a true coming of age story showing Quentin and his friends as they gain a more complete understanding of what friendship and love really are.


Interested in other books by John Green? Check out the ones below! (The Fault in Our Stars is also a movie!)

looking for alaskathe fault in our starsan abundance of katherineswill grayson will graysonlet it snow

13677_900x1350Welcome back to Part 2 of my retrospective review of two graphic novels that have recently ended! Earlier, we looked back at  “Fables” by Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham. Now, as promised, we’re on to  “The Unwritten” by Mike Carey and Peter Gross. Much like “Fables,” I was introduced to “The Unwritten” by a fellow librarian. As he remembered it:

This week a co-worker came up to me with a crazed look in her eye and said “Yesterday I was shelving some comics and started flipping through the first volume of The Unwritten. Before I knew it I’d read all five volumes the library owns. When will there be more?” It’s always great to watch someone enjoy something I liked a lot. It’s even more fun when their excitement borders on the maniacal. – Andrew, “No Flying No Tights”

Like Fables, Unwritten originates in the story-telling world. Instead of the fairy tales of old, Unwritten beings in a modern age fable of Tommy Taylor. The Tommy of the title is the main character in a highly popular series of books written by the reclusive author Wilson Taylor. The Tommy Taylor series is modeled on the Harry Potter books (with Tommy as Harry) complete with wizards, wands and made-up Latin spells.

There is another Tommy in the story, however, the “real” one (perhaps). Tom Taylor, son of Wilson and on whom the character was modeled (or maybe not). Tom has grown up in the spotlight and shadow of his father’s fame. With his father’s mysterious disappearance after the release of his last book, Tom travels the convention circuit reluctantly, having failed as a musician, actor and author. It is at one of these “TommyCons” that a young woman calling herself  Lizzie Hexam publicly casts doubt on Tom’s identity and whether or not he is Wilson Taylor’s son.

the-unwritten-13The notion that Tom is a fraud creates an explosive amount of controversy, with a level of emotion only devoted fans can muster. Tom becomes a pariah, and on his way into hiding, is kidnapped by a crazed attacker pretending (or is he?) to be Count Ambrosio, the Lord Voldemort to our Tommy. With all of the internet watching, Tom survives and is suddenly elevated to  messianic status, something that turns out to be nearly as bad as being universally reviled.

But Tom’s fortunes are about to change, again. Tom – now doubting his own past – begin looking for answers of his own. The search takes him to his childhood home of Villa Diodati in Switzerland (not coincidentally, this is also where Mary Shelley wrote  Frankenstein, or, The modern Prometheus – the novels are filled with these bits of literary trivia and seeming coincidences.) Tom, joined by Lizzie, finds more questions than answers, though, along with a map, a crystal doorknob and more than a few dead bodies. It seems that Tom’s activities have caught the attention of some very dangerous people who don’t seem to be fans of Tommy Taylor.

Accused of the murders and thrown into a French prison, Tom find himself sharing a cell with a reporter named Savoy, who bribed his way into the prison to report on Tom’s activities. Lizzie shows up to break them out and thwart a hit on Tommy, ordered by the prison warden Chadron whose children are fans of the Tommy Taylor series and, tragically, are killed in the escape. Maddened by grief, Chadron becomes Count Ambrosio.

The trio of Tom, Lizzie and Savoy – now mirroring the fictional threesome of Tommy, Sue and Peter – embark on a journey that crosses time and space crossing the thinning barriers between the fictional and real worlds. They uncover something has gone very wrong in the fictional worlds and confront Tommy’s reclusive father, who might be both the cause the solution.

Throughout the series, we travel a vast literacy landscape. The epic poem Song of Roland, the Nazi propaganda film Jud Süß, Moby-Dick (of course), The Canterbury Tales, the Golden Age of Comic Books, the French operetta Orpheus in the Underworlda world that seems to be a mix of Winnie the Pooh and Peter Rabbit (with a very, very bad Peter)  the world of Fables and many, many more, not to mention what is happening in our own world. With so many stories running parallel to each other with multiple intersections, the series finds itself, at times, bogged down in its own mythology. In the later volumes, some of the most enjoyable aspects of the series – the seek-and-find of clues drawn into the panels – is dropped entirely. Lizzie Hexam’s story devolves from a real-life heroic and confident Hermonie character, to a damsel in distress, living, loving and dying at the whim of Tom’s father. Even 4572712-11the art is plainer, with simpler lines and little dimension.

In the final two volumes, War Stories (#10) and Apocalypse (#11), some of the threads are drawn together, building up to the final, final conclusion. Carey and Gross have created a very deep world, and it’s probably inevitable that some story lines are dropped. The morals of the stories can be heavy-handed, with the big bads a little too bad. While Unwritten tries at telling a universal creation story, ultimately, this is a story of a father and a son and the age-old question of who creates whom.

ascensionThe Syfy channel premiered Ascension, a limited event series, in December of 2014, as a way to introduce people to the idea of what would have happened if Project Orion (also check out their Wikipedia page), a government sponsored program from the 1950s that would have placed over 150 scientists on the moon and even been able to send expeditions to other planets, would have actually happened. Ascension chronicles what could have happened had Project Orion actually occurred.

Ascension gives viewers a glimpse into the secret programs of the government and the lives of the people who both wittingly and unwittingly found themselves stuck on that spacecraft. In 1963, at the height of the Cold War, the government secretly recruited 350 people for a mission into space. A huge interstellar spaceship called Ascension was launched into space on a 100 year journey to another solar system. Present day on the ship is 50 years later and viewers are introduced to the children of the original crewmembers, the middle group of people, the ones who are doomed to spend their whole lives on the ship without ever being able to see their destination. Their parents started the ship and their children will be remembered as the ones who complete the journey. This middle group will be forgotten.

Tragedy has struck on Ascension with their first murder having been committed. This leads to chaos as the captain and his crew struggle to figure out who committed this crime while also working to keep the rest of the ship calm. Striated class systems and struggles for power dominate the investigation of the death of a woman from the upper decks as people from the lower decks are accused of the crime. This television show is wracked full of plays for power, multiple ship romances and trysts, and rivalries that will have you on the edge of your seat. Add in the fact that people on board only have access to culture, information, and technologies from 1963 and before and the whole spacecraft takes on an eternal 1960s feel that is intriguing and pleasing to the eye.

Check out this show to learn more information about the launch of Ascension, the people aboard the ship, as well as information about the founders and the governmental organization responsible for making sure the mission stays on course no matter the cost.

Featured new additions to DPL’s Religion & Spirituality collections! Click on the title to place a hold. For more new books, visit our Upcoming Releases page. As always, if there’s a title you would like to read, please send us a purchase suggestion.

91bcwKzOLGL Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church by The Investigative Staff of the Boston Globe – The story behind this groundbreaking book has been brought to life on the screen in the new movie Spotlight . Here are the devastating revelations that triggered a crisis within the Catholic Church. Here is the truth about the scores of abusive priests who preyed upon innocent children and the cabal of senior Church officials who covered up their crimes. Here is the trail of “hush money” that the Catholic Church secretly paid to buy victims’ silence Here as well is a vivid account of the ongoing struggle, as Catholics confront their Church and call for sweeping change.
91zRIUZpPdL Mythology by Edith Hamilton – Since its original publication in 1942, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology has sold millions of copies throughout the world and established itself as a perennial bestseller. Mythology succeeds like no other book in bringing to life for the modern reader the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths and legends that are the keystone of Western culture – the stories of gods and heroes that have inspired human creativity from antiquity to the present.
NotInGodsName_unapproved-e1427725666846 Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence by Jonathan Sacks – In this powerful and timely book, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks tackles the phenomenon of religious extremism and violence committed in the name of God. If religion is perceived as being part of the problem, Rabbi Sacks argues, then it must also form part of the solution. When religion becomes a zero-sum conceit violence between people of different beliefs, violence appears to be the only natural outcome.But through an exploration of the roots of violence and its relationship to religion Rabbi Sacks shows that religiously inspired violence has as its source misreadings of biblical texts at the heart of all three Abrahamic faiths.
81KTjecgtLL Parables: The Mysteries of God’s Kingdom by John MacArthur – As a master storyteller, Jesus used ingeniously simple word pictures to impart profound spiritual lessons. In this insightful exploration of Christ’s parables, respected expositor and commentator MacArthur helps to understand each story and comprehend how it fits into the narrative of Scripture and the gospel message.
81lXcrfhwcL Pope Francis Among the Wolves: The Inside Story of a Revolution by Marco Politi – Marco Politi takes us deep inside the power struggle roiling the Roman Curia and the Catholic Church worldwide, beginning with Benedict XVI, the pope who famously resigned in 2013, and intensifying with the contested and unexpected election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, now known as Pope Francis. Politi’s account balances the perspectives of Pope Francis’s supporters, Benedict’s sympathizers, and those disappointed members of the Catholic laity who feel alienated by the institution’s secrecy, financial corruption, and refusal to modernize.
142227 This Is Not A Love Story: A Memoir by Judy Brown – The third of six children in a family that harks back to a gloried Hassidic dynasty, Judy Brown grew up with the legacy of centuries of religious teaching, and the faith and lore that sustained her people for generations. But her carefully constructed world begins to crumble when her “crazy” brother Nachum returns home after a year in Israel living with relatives. Though supposedly “cured,” he is still prone to retreating into his own mind or erupting in wordless rages. The adults’ inability to make him better – or even to give his affliction a name – forces Judy to ask larger questions: If God could perform miracles for her sainted ancestors, why can’t He cure Nachum? And what of the other stories her family treasured?

wayward pines

Have you ever watched a show that had you continuously scratching your head and wondering what was going on and how any of it could possibly be happening? My latest head-scratching television show is Wayward Pines, a Fox television show that premiered its first season in May of 2015 . This show stars Matt Dillon as Secret Service agent Ethan Burke who is sent to investigate the disappearance of two fellow agents. On his way to investigate, Burke is in a serious car accident and wakes up in a hospital in Wayward Pines, a creepily idyllic town in the picturesque mountains of Idaho.

After breaking out of the hospital, Burke begins the investigation into his missing colleagues and also into what actually happened to him before he woke up in the hospital in Wayward Pines. Burke soon realizes that crazy things are happening when he stumbles upon one of his missing colleagues and she tells him she has been in Wayward Pines for years, when she disappeared from DC five weeks prior. Burke tries to leave, tries to get in contact with his wife and son, and tries to pry answers from the sheriff and the townspeople, only to be rebuffed and in danger no matter what he tries. When his family comes looking for him, Burke takes matters into his own hands and desperately searches for a way to free them all for the walled city of Wayward Pines. This television show can be confusing at times, but the giant conspiracy around the whole endeavor had me clamoring for more once I watched the season finale.


This television show is based on the Wayward Pines novels by Blake Crouch. The order of the trilogy is Pines, Wayward, and The Last Town. You can find all three at the Davenport Public Library.

pineswaywardthe last town