Fri, 03/05/2021 - 12:10pm by fredbeldin
A midnight jam session becomes a hotbed of emotional manipulation and ruined reputation in this loose rewrite of Othello set in the London jazz scene. Musicians congregate to celebrate the wedding anniversary of renowned pianist Rex and retired singer Delia, but one guest plots to drive them apart and lure the wife back to the stage for his own gain. Patrick McGoohan is incandescent as the Iago of the piece, an ambitious, amoral drummer who single-handedly drives the plot as he circulates among the partygoers, gaslighting a succession of gullible hipsters. All Night Long never lags as it moves swiftly and nearly in real time, the party shifting perceptibly from gaiety and camaraderie to paranoia and suspicion. Featuring cameos and performances from jazz legends like Charles Mingus, Dave Brubeck and Tubby Hayes, the music seeps through every scene and even helps identify character — McGoohan’s frenzied drum solos expose the obsession at the center of his role better than any dialogue.
British director Basil Dearden was known for socially-progressive message pictures, although All Night Long’s only political statement is its casual acceptance of interracial romance. The taut, gritty thriller Victim is another standout with blunter concerns, condemning Britain’s then-current anti-homosexuality laws, while Sapphire examines the fragile logic of racism and the breezy yet cynical The League of Gentlemen is a high-concept heist plot populated by disillusioned ex-soldiers. All four films were released on DVD by Criterion/Eclipse, and each is available through the AADL for the forward-thinking cineaste.
Thu, 03/04/2021 - 1:49pm by copelands
February might be over, but we're continuing the celebration of black history and culture. Check out a few recommendations below for some of the best in Black poetry.
Light for the World to See by Kwame Alexander:
In this collection of poems, the New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander gives readers a rap session about race. Best known for his youth novels, Alexander writes a book of poetry for adults in Light for the World to See. Inspired by three distinct events, Alexander masterfully writes about the murder of George Floyd, the anti-racism protest of Colin Kaepernick, and the historic election of Barack Obama. Adding to the thought provoking text and galvanizing themes are graphic illustrations that make this title all the more enjoyable to read.
Thu, 03/04/2021 - 10:00am by muffy
Shortlisted for the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction, A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes, (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook, read by the author) based on the plays by Euripides, is a gorgeous and timely retelling of the Trojan War, from the women, some familiar, others less so, “whose lives, loves, and rivalries were forever altered by this long and tragic war.”
The narrative opens on the night Troy fell, ending 10 years of conflict with the Greeks (Remember that sneaky wooden horse?) As the city burns, the Trojan women find themselves the spoil of war - among them Hecabe, the once proud queen of Troy, brought low by the loss of her husband and sons; her daughter Cassandra, cursed to foresee the future; the Amazon princess Penthesilea who fought Achilles; and Creusa, who courageously tries to save her family.
We also hear from the Greek camp - Calliope, goddess of epic poetry, who offers a tale not of the men's glory but of the experiences of the women; Penelope, who writes biting letters to Odysseus for his long absence; Clytemnestra, who seeks revenge against Agamemnon for sacrificing their daughter; Oenone, Paris' abandoned wife; and Helen, who resents being blamed as the cause of war, and the prophecies she has no power to stop.
“The telling is nonlinear, but the varied stories flow naturally together, ensuring that readers won't lose their way. Haynes' freshly modern version of an ancient tale is perfect for our times.” (Booklist)
For fans of Madeline Miller. Readers might also want to check out Emily Hauser’s For the Most Beautiful: a Novel of the Women of Troy (2017). Further reading coming this spring and summer: Euripides’ Trojan Women: A Comic, by Rosanna Bruno, text by Anne Carson (May) ; Daughters of Sparta by Claire Andrews (June); and Women of Troy by Pat Barker (Aug.)
Wed, 03/03/2021 - 9:04am by mrajraspn08
I’ve spoken before about the desperate need for books about low-functioning/high needs autism, so I was thrilled to see We Walk hit library shelves. It delivered more than I thought possible. Amy S.F. Lutz talks about life parenting a child with severe autism, ranging from discussions on the medicalization of marijuana to the philosophy of personhood. She also talks about how the higher-functioning autism community does a disservice to children like her son and how there needs to be a better balance (in the community and also in the medical field) to reflect both ends of the spectrum; before anyone gets upset about this, though, she does so in a very fair and even fashion that had me reconsidering my prior beliefs (see the compromise on “functioning/needs” label in my first sentence). So much of these points had me nodding in understanding and pausing in thought. I highly recommend this to anyone, but especially those involved in the autism community, from whichever end of the spectrum, and I believe this perspective could and should be required reading for anyone making decisions in the community.
Mon, 03/01/2021 - 9:11pm by eileenw
“Meet Ray. He is the light bulb who lives in the closet at the end of the hall.” Those two lines were all it took for me to be charmed by this simple but insightful picture book by Marianna Coppo, titled Ray.
While Ray has lived in several different rooms, the closet he currently resides in doesn’t offer much in the way of entertainment or wonder. Every day he hangs out with the same books, and toys, and off-season holiday decorations, and Tom (the spider—every closet needs one). But just as often as the light is on, the light is off. We’re told “darkness is boring if you don’t know how to fill it.” Ray doesn’t even see anything when he dreams. Until one day, he’s unscrewed from the closet light fixture, and placed in a lantern. Ray is taken camping—one short experience that changes everything for this little lightbulb. Although he comes back home to the closet after his camping trip, the memories he has now fill the darkness.
Fri, 02/26/2021 - 1:21pm by mrajraspn08
I work at a library and have written a few books, so of course I was reading to my baby from the day he was born! Here's a couple of his favorites:
Goodnight, Gorilla is about a gorilla who sneaks out of the zoo and follows the zookeeper home for bed. I find this book cute as an adult, and when you're reading it for the millionth time in the same day, it's easy to recite from memory while you do something else yourself!
Jane Yolen was one of my favorite authors as a child, and my kid loves her book How Do Dinosaurs Say I'm Mad, which teaches anger management skills early through dinosaur antics. Yolen has several other books along this line that are just as engaging.
Wed, 02/24/2021 - 10:13pm by muffy
“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” ~ Edmund Hillary
The Sanatorium * by Sarah Pearse (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook). Elin Warner, British police detective on extended leave (there is more to that backstory) travels with her boyfriend Willy Riley, to Le Sommet, a 5-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps, at the invitation of her estranged brother Isaac, to celebrate his engagement to their childhood friend Laure Strehl. Arriving in the midst of a snow storm, they soon find themselves totally cut off from the outside world. When Laure, a manager of the resort, disappears overnight, Elin suspects foul play, and her brother as the most likely suspect. Afterall, wasn’t Isaac responsible for the death of their younger brother, Sam?
As bodies are discovered, including that of Laure’s, it’s clear that a killer is on the loose among the remaining guests and staff. With police unable to reach the resort, Elin assumes the role of investigator, and soon focuses on the sordid history of the resort, once a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients.
“Pearse not only creates believably fallible characters, she also vividly portrays the frigid landscape of Le Sommet buffeted by blizzards, and a chilling epilogue cries out for a sequel.” (Booklist)
Shiver (eBook and also available in downloadable audiobook) by Allie Reynolds, is set in the French Alps where 5 friends at a reunion weekend are stranded at Le Rocher, a remote ski resort during a snowstorm.
Curtis, Milla, Brent, Dale, and Heather have not seen each other for over a decade since that winter they spent training for an elite snowboarding competition, and Saskia, the sixth member of their group, vanished and presumed dead. Yet no sooner do Milla and the others arrive for the reunion than they realize something is horribly wrong. The cable cars that delivered them have stopped working, their phones disappear, electrical power is intermittent, food supplies vanish.
“Finding out what’s going on tests the physical and mental endurance of Milla and the rest of the crew. Winter-sports fans are in for a treat here, as are all who enjoy a tale of extremes; the fierce competition between women characters is also a bonus. The answer to who’s pulling the strings here is a little incredible, but overall this debut is an atmospheric winter treat. Recommend it to those who enjoyed recent tales of reunions gone awry, such as Laura DiSilverio’s That Last Weekend (2017) and T. M. Logan’s The Vacation (2020).” (Booklist)
"The sometimes-grisly action has a palpably visual immediacy to it—it comes as no surprise that this debut novel has already been picked up for television.... This suspenseful debut thriller by a former freestyle snowboarder contains both style and substance.“(Kirkus Reviews)
* = Starred review
Wed, 02/24/2021 - 2:44pm by copelands
Black History Month is celebrated every February as a chance to remember and celebrate the many contributions of African-Americans to society. While this month has been designated, Black history and culture should be recognized in every month. From honoring Black history to celebrating Black culture and identity, we’ll feature a few reviews this month that celebrate and uplift the Black community. Below are a few recommendations for youth picture books.
I Promise by LeBron James, illustrated by Nina Mata
NBA Champion LeBron James has accomplished a lot in his career. He’s a four-time NBA champion and four-time NBA MVP. Despite all of this success, the most important part of his legacy has been off the court. LeBron opened his I Promise school in Akron, Ohio in 2018 that especially aims to teach at risk children. Inspired by the kids from his school, the book I Promise tells a story of action and responsibility in a way that kids will take to heart. Children from different backgrounds are wonderfully shown in harmony with lessons in the text meant to inspire self reflection, accountability, and unity. Nina Mata provides vibrant, colorful illustrations to the text. With simple but powerful words, kids from everywhere will enjoy this book filled with encouragement and fun. I really enjoyed this book and found it especially helpful in the times we’re facing today.
Mon, 02/22/2021 - 8:39pm by eileenw
In The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (paperback, large print, ebook, audiobook download), Khai Diep doesn’t believe that he’s capable of feeling emotion—not grief, not love, nothing. He deeply believes something is broken inside of him. But his mother won’t let anything stand in the way of her quest for grandchildren, not even her own son, so she returns to her native Vietnam to find him a bride. She comes back to California with Esme Tran, a woman who has never been able to escape the slums she grew up in and, in her own way, has always felt as out of place as Khai does ... not that it makes things any smoother between them as Khai's mother forces them to a share the same house.
Like Helen Hoang’s first novel, The Kiss Quotient (paperback, large print, ebook, audiobook download), The Bride Test’s romantic leads feature a character on the Autism spectrum, as well as aspects of Asian American immigrant family experiences. These #OwnVoices novels drew me in; they delivered everything a good romance novel should and kept me up way too late just so I could finish reading the story.
Wed, 02/17/2021 - 1:03pm by howarde
Phillis Wheatley is the first known African-American woman to have published a book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, in 1773. Captured in West Africa as a child, she was sold into slavery around the age of seven and purchased by the white Wheatley family of New England, who decided to give her an education and free her when she became an adult.
The documentation we have about Wheatley that does not depend on the perspectives of white people is scant. Jeffers’ poems re-imagine the inner life of a girl and then young woman ripped from her family, forced into a traumatic ocean crossing, and brought up amongst people who cared for her, yet owned her; who encouraged her intellect but wanted to erase her culture and heritage.