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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Documentaries of Distinction: Summer 2014

Posted by Staff.

When perusing our DVD shelves, don't walk past the non-fiction section thinking that we only have a bunch of how-to videos. We carry a wide variety of DVDs and many are documentaries; short films whose purpose is to inform or accurately portray a subject. Topics can range from light-hearted to grim, but all provide interesting, thought-provoking stories. Next time you are looking for something new to watch, try a documentary. For more suggestions, jump over to our Pinterest board dedicated to staff recommendations.

McConkey (2013) Visually arresting and entertaining documentary about a daring and defiant downhill skier.

Generation Iron (2013)  Not nearly as good as Pumping Iron, but this is a good look at the current state of body building.

Blackfish (2013)  A movie about a killer whale (orca) held in captivity that killed several people.  The message: showing that you cannot always train live animals.

Beauty is Embarrassing (2012)  Follows the art career of Wayne White, a puppeteer who first gained recognition through his work on Pee-Wee's Playhouse.

Until the Light Takes Us (2009)  Tells the story of the Norwegian black metal music scene during the mid-90s - infamous as much for a series of murders and church arsons as it is for its unique musical and visual aethetics

The Gatekeepers (2012) A disturbing documentary featuring interviews with all surviving former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency whose activities and membership are closely held state secrets.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Patron Book Review: A Delicate Truth

Posted by EPL Patron and Guest Blogger, Irv S.

British novelist John LeCarré gained widespread popularity with his Cold War spy novels. The stories were taut, the characters fascinating.  When the USSR collapsed, leaving the US as the only superpower, many of LeCarré's readers thought sadly that his career was over. No more Cold War, no more spy novels. Both LeCarré and the world, especially the US, proved the pessimists wrong. LeCarré continues to write compelling novels. The US continues to provide abundant supplies of evil and greed.  A Delicate Truth is replete with good characters and evil ones.

The good guys are generally, as in his prior novels, mid-level British bureaucrats, bright and honorable. The neo-bad guys come from the top echelons of private defense contractors. The bureaucrats are motivated by love of country, the contractors by love of money and power.  The author also offers a few complex and hard to define characters who are usually patriotic but sometimes succumb to temptations of the flesh or for power. All is written with LeCarré's customary grace and aplomb.

The contractors are "trader(s) in small wars...(guilty of) sheer, wanton, bloody indifference to anybody's interests but their own."

A Delicate Truth does not curry favor with Americans, except, perhaps those who sometimes question their country's goodness and who enjoy a complex story well told.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Patron Book Reviews: Summer Suggestions #3

Book reviews provided by EPL Patrons

Sea Change by Karen White.  Great story with two parallel lines of action one hundred years apart.  Some of the coincidences near the end of the novel are a bit far fetched, but overall, very entertaining.

The House of Impossible Loves by Cristina Lopez Barrio.  This book was suggested in one of my many searches of the  new on-line catalogue.  I found it to be quite intriguing.  The book chronicles the Laguan women who are cursed as they bear only daughters.  The curse also extends to their loves whom die or leave.  This is a book of love, revenge, family and social hierarchy.  I found it to be quite an interesting read!

Matty Groves by Deborah Grabien.  This book is a great mix of spooky, spine tingly,  English history, love story, humor all wrapped together in a fast paced mystery with intelligent witty characters.

Ready Player One byEarnest Cline.  Great book!  Perfect for children of the 80s who loved video games!  Lots of pop culture references.

Piercing The Darkness by Frank Peretti.  Awesome read!!! To me, it hits home with my life. How through the choices we make, whether right or wrong, God still loves us!!

It Was A Very Bad Year by Robert J. Randisi.  A fun and clever private eye genre mystery set in Las Vegas in 1963 around the time of the Kennedy assassination. A casino pit boss who handle ‘trouble’ for the Rat Pack handles a blackmail case for a famous ‘60s starlet and ends up in the middle of the Frank Sinatra Jr. Kidnapping case. Part of a series.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman.  I loved this book!  I don't usually read fantasy but this story was magical, scary, adventurous and heart-warming.  Thanks EPL staff for the recomendation. Five stars.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Family Reading Lists

Posted by Staff

Whether you are going on vacation or staying at home, books can be welcome friends.  Often in summer, the family is spending more time together - how about spending some time talking about books?  One option is for everyone to read the same book and discuss it (try one of our book club kits).  A second option is to have everyone select a book withing a theme and talk about the similarities and differences of their choices.  The staff have selected titles for all age groups that fall into six themes.  Our first two themes are:

Books for kids K-2nd Grade
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Pioneers, cabins and bears, Oh my!  This is a great choice since the adults will have likely read this book, too.

Books for kids 3rd - 5th Grade 
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.  A boy is challenged to survive in the wild after a plane crash.
Sarah Plain and Tall by Maclachland.  Mail order bride from Maine marries a man from Kansas.  The story tells of her coping with the dramatic changes in the environment.

Books for kids 6th - 12th Grade
The Goats by Brock Cole.  Two teenagers abandoned on a island during summer camp, decide to seek revenge by disappearing.

Books for Mom
The Geography of Bliss: One Grumps Search to Find the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner.  The author, a former foreign correspondent, took a year's research to travel the globe looking for the happy places.  The results are both funny and philosophical.

Books for Dad 
River Horse by William Least Heat Moon.  The author and a friend travel in a small boat from New York, across the Midwest covering Lewis and Clark's route to the Pacific.

Books for kids K-2nd Grade
The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary.  Ralph the mouse finds a toy motorcycle and with magic and help from a friend, finds a way to ride it.

Books for kids 3rd - 5th Grade 
The School Story by Andrew Clements.  Twelve year old Natalie writes a book and schemes to get it published at the publishing house where her mother works.

Books for kids 6th - 12th Grade 
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon.  A poignant story of a 15 year old boy who, although supremely logical does't understand emotions.  His neighbor's dog is killed and he sets out to solve the mystery.

Books for Mom
My Life in France by Julia Child.  Julia's memoir describing her early years in France and how she learned to cook.

Books for Dad 
The Radioactive Boy Scout: The True Story of a Boy and his Backyard Nuclear Reactor by Ken Silverstein.  An amazing story of an Eagle Scout who attains his goal of collecting a sample of every element - even the really nasty ones!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bites From the Bookworms: July 2014

Posted by Alana T., Sara S., Anne W. & Jill S.

Librarians love to eat and love cookbooks!  Following is list of some recent publications, along with a few older favorites.  For more great cookbooks, visit our previous posts or jump over to our Pinterest board.

The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook: Revolutionary Techniques and Groundbreaking Recipes by America's Test Kitchen.  The book that teaches you to make good pasta, pie crust, cookies and other yummy food from scratch.

Pati's Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking by Pati Junich.  Try the Mexican style pasta - it's sure to please everyone!

10 Dollar Dinners by Melissa D'arabian.  Delicious recipes that are not to complicated.  She won the Food network show and has her own series now.  Her husband is French and a lot of her recipes have a French flair without being too difficult.

The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving: Over Delicious Recipes to Use Year Round by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard.  A good resource for beginning cooks wanting to try recipes without being bogged down by gallons of jelly or hours over a pot of boiling water.  There are also some great recipes for fresh condiments.  The "Blender Ketchup" is amazing, super easy and REALLY good - I cut the recipe in half and keep it unprocessed in the fridge for about a month.

Perfect Pies: The Best Sweet and Savory Recipes From America's Pie-Baking Champion by Amy Stuart.  Summer is pie season in our house and there are some winning recipes here.  The Twisted Citrus Blackberry Pie (on the cover) is amazing!

660 Curries: The Gateway to Indian Cooking by Raghavan Iyer.  A tremendous diversity of curries are presented, with something for everyone.  There is also a thorough listing of bread, rice and noodle recipes.  My favorites?  Stewed Cauliflower (cauliflower with a coconut cinnamon sauce), homemade rice noodles and any of the chickpea dumplings.

America I AM: Pass It Down Cookbook by Jeff Henderson.  As much a discussion about the importance of food in African-American families as it is a cookbook, this is a enticing read. My favorite is quick and delicious: Chef Jeff's Collard Green Soup with Smoked Turkey.  The secret ingredient?  A smoked turkey leg.

The Jamlady Cookbook by Beverly Ellen Schoonmaker Alfeld.  When its time to make any kind of jelly or jam and I want something a bit different, this is my go-to cookbook.  If you want something straightforward, all the classics are here.  But, if you want to try something a bit different, there are many options from which to choose.  Summer is all about tomatoes and there is a generous selection of recipes for this abundant fruit.  When temperatures are cooling and you have too many unripe tomatoes in the garden, I recommend trying the Green Tomato Preserves.