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Monday, May 23, 2016

Irv's Book Reviews: Three Great Reads

Posted by patron and guest blogger, Irv S.

The Empire of the Night by Robert Olen Butler is a historical spy thriller set in England and Germany, mostly the latter, in the early days of The Great War. The narrator/protagonist Christopher Marlowe Cobb is an American spy and journalist.  He is the son of a charming and talented American actress Isabel Cobb who is playing the title role in a London production of Hamlet and rehearsing to do the role in German on the Berlin stage, and has been selected by his handler to be his partner in the attempt to infiltrate, understand, and sabotage a German bombing program. The story provides a great deal of history and excellent character development.  Mr. Butler has been correctly described as one of the America’s premier writers.
Cobb has much of James Bond in him. He is a connoisseur of cigars, wine, architecture, and who knows what else.  Occasionally he displays the hard-bitten cynicism of Sam Spade.  Mr. Butler often writes with tongue in cheek. 

Neither  Bond nor  Spade have difficulty differentiating between the good guys and the bad guys. Butler’s characters are more nuanced. Cobb has difficulty deciding who he should exterminate, and, indeed, has a deep aversion to killing.

There is a tension in the book between rapid paced story-telling and rich writing.  The reader risks becoming so engrossed in the tale as to overlook the finely wrought prose. Sometimes one must defer the pleasure of learning the next plot development in favor of re-reading particular passages of outstanding writing.  This is the third Christopher Marlowe Cobb novel. I look forward to reading the fourth.

Rogue Lawyer is a John Grisham page turner with plenty of substance.  The protagonist Sebastian Rudd is a complex and fascinating character who is selective about the cases he takes, concentrating on those which will produce the maximum conflict with law enforcement personnel and anyone else who wields power, politically or economic. He defends a drug-addled kid accused of murdering two little girls (not guilty), a vicious crime lord who killed a judge (guilty), and a homeowner who kills a policeman who mistakenly invaded his home (technically guilty but with an interesting twist). He is in a running battle with his ex-wife over custody/visitation with his eight year old son. Grisham was a trial lawyer and knows how a trial works. His discussion of legal procedures is not only fascinating, but accurate and reliable.  Rogue Lawyer is a good read, Grisham at his best.

So Long, See You Tomorrow by William Maxwell is shorter than most novels, but packs too much into its pages to be called a novella. It is a beautifully written story of love, sex, pain and growing up--without any lewdness or foul language. It has wonderful and well developed characters and strong imagery. It also deals with the questions of "what is truth?" and "how do we discern it?" The story is set in the author's hometown, Lincoln, Illinois. The author went east to attend Harvard and spent over thirty years as an editor of The New Yorker. So Long, See You Tomorrow is an excellent and very satisfying novel.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Supporting Book Characters That We Wish Had Their Own Books

Posted by Staff

Have you ever read a book and wished that you new more about one of the supporting characters? Here are the characters that we wish had their own books so that we could learn more about them and get their backstories. What supporting book characters do you with had their own books?

Ben Corman from I am Legend by Richard Matheson (Zach H.) 
As the main antagonist to Neville, the last human, Ben is determind to turn Neville into a vampire. It would be entertaining to see into the mind of a character who sits outside, taunting the main character.

Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (Megan J.)

Let's be real: those boys would have died in book 1 without her. She is such a strong an intelligent character that I would really be interested in rereading the whole series but from Hermione's perspective.

Neville Longbotton from the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (Mason S.)
Because Neville has a better character arc than Harry.

Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling (Sam O.)
Because she always saw through the BS and knew what was real.  I also like her "devil may care" attitude.

Will Teasle from First Blood by David Morrell (David R.) 
The small down sheriff in the David Morrell novel is a complex character in his own right - a separate novel about his earlier days (in the Korean War perhaps) would be interesting indeed.

Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket (Sam O.)
It would be interesting to see how he followed the Baudelaire orphans to closely.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Hot Movies: Top Circulating Adult DVDs

Posted by Katherine R.

Here's another interesting look at our top circulating titles. For this list, I looked at which adult DVDs (fiction) have been checked out the most from January 1 through May 1 of this year. The DVD checked out the most is at the top of the list. I was a little surprised to see Unbroken as our top circulating DVD during this time period because it has been out on DVD since March 2015. 

Unbroken (2014)

Inside Out (2015)

The Martian (2015)

The Hundred-Foot Journey (2014)

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (2016)