Thursday, December 31, 2009

Library Closing Early!

All the libraries in the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District are closing early tonight, at 5 PM.

We will re-open Saturday morning at 10 AM.

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday's New DVD Releases



Here are the releases for January 5;

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - A scientist tries to solve world hunger only to see things go awry as food falls from the sky in abundance.

Columbia Pictures' and Sony Pictures Animation's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs will be the most delicious event since macaroni met cheese. Inspired by the beloved children's book, the film focuses on a town where food falls from the sky like rain.Bill Hader, star of Saturday Night Live and Night of the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, will voice Flint Lockwood, a young inventor who dreams of creating something that will improve everyone's life. Anna Faris, who recently turned heads as the star of the comedy hit The House Bunny, takes on the role of Sam Sparks, a weathergirl covering the phenomenon who hides her intelligence behind a perky exterior. James Caan plays Tim Lockwood, Flint's technophobic father. Andy Samberg plays Brent, the town bully who has plagued Flint since childhood. Bruce Campbell plays Mayor Shelbourne, who figures out that Flint's invention can put the town, and more importantly himself, on the map and Mr. T plays the by-the-rules town cop Earl Devereaux.

The Final Destination - On what should have been a fun-filled day at the races, Nick O'Bannon has a horrific premonition in which a bizarre sequence of events causes multiple race cars to crash, sending flaming debris into the stands, brutally killing his friends and causing the upper deck of the stands to collapse on him. When he comes out of this grisly nightmare Nick panics, persuading his girlfriend, Lori, and their friends, Janet and Hunt, to leave... escaping seconds before Nick's frightening vision becomes a terrible reality. Thinking they've cheated death, the group has a new lease on life, but unfortunately for Nick and Lori, it is only the beginning. As his premonitions continue and the crash survivors begin to die one-by-one--in increasingly gruesome ways--Nick must figure out how to cheat death once and for all before he, too, reaches his final destination. The film marks the latest in the highly popular Final Destination series, and its first 3D installment, giving horror fans an especially visceral thrill ride.

This week’s release with the most requests is Paranormal Activity with 378 requests.

Monday, December 28, 2009

CD Spotlight - Jennifer Hudson - Jennifer Hudson


Title: Jennifer Hudson
Author: Jennifer Hudson
Media type: Sound Recording
Genre: R&B/ Soul

Every decade or so, a new voice emerges that is transcendent, timeless. In the ‘60s, Aretha was royalty; the ‘70s were under Chaka’s control; Whitney owned the ‘80s and Mariah lead the ‘90s. For this new decade, it could be very well be all about Jennifer Hudson. With her high-powered soulful style, the 26-year old Chicago native had already achieved feats that are reserved for most young singers’ dreams. The former American Idol contestant nabbed a much-deserved Academy Award for her unforgettable role as Effie in the 2006 movie adaptation of the Broadway musical Dreamgirls along with Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA and Broadcast Film Critic’s Association Awards. (Retrieved December 14, 2009, http://www.jenniferhudson.com/biography)

Jennifer Hudson, a Chicago Native was another American Idol contestant. She was not successful in winning, but her career has taken off tremendously as a result. She has appeared in two great movies, Dreamgirls and The Secret Life of Bees. In her debut album, simply entitled Jennifer Hudson, she has shown that her voice is extremely versatile and that she has what it takes to appeal to all ages. I enjoyed this CD very much, because she has some slower songs, but also some fast songs that show her fun side as well. I think you will enjoy this CD and if you are not already a fan as I am, I think you soon will become one after listening to her first CD. Looking forward to her next one.
Of course, my favorite song is If This Isn’t Love. The title says it all. If all of the things around me seem like this is love, then why would it not be. Very simple, yet powerful song.

If This Isn’t Love
God sent me an angel up from above
To love me for life
Things would be perfect
Only because it's the only way
I can describe and say

[Chorus:]
If This Isn't Love
See what it is, is like I'd be dreaming and just playin crazy

If this isn't love
See what it is, cause I never felt like this baby

If this isn't love

Go take a listen and let me know what you think. Or sample some of her other songs and give us your interpretatoion.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Urban Fiction - Feature Author December - Eric Jerome Dickey


Title: Drive Me Crazy
Author: Eric Jerome Dickey
Genre: Contemporary Urban Fiction

The Urban fiction Author for the month of December is Eric Jerome Dickey

Eric Jerome Dickey was born in Memphis, Tennessee and attended the University of Memphis (the former Memphis State), where he earned his degree in Computer System Technology. In 1983, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in engineering.

After landing a job in the aerospace industry as a software developer, Eric Jerome Dickey's artistic talents surfaced, inspiring him to become an actor and a stand-up comedian. Yet Eric quickly found out that writing was something he could do and do well. From creative writing classes to avidly consuming the works of his favorite authors, Eric Jerome Dickey began to shape a writing career of his own. Having written several scripts for his personal comedy act, he started writing poetry and short stories. The film work gave me insight into character development, the acting classes helped me understand motivation...All of it goes hand in hand, Eric explains. He joined the IBWA (International Black Writers and Artists), participated in their development workshops, and became a recipient of the IBWA SEED Scholarship to attend UCLA's Creative Writing classes.

I have been a long time fan of Dickey’s work. His books were very fast paced, with twisting plots that had you guessing to the end. I was disappointed recently when I tried to read the Gideon series. After that, his books became somewhat less enjoyable to read. He lost me, but I am still looking forward to his future works to see if he can once again claim me as a fan. I am highlighting some of his earlier works that got me hooked on his writing in the beginning. Read some of his earlier works and then compare them to his more recent works and see what you think. We would love to see how you liked or disliked the variance in the writing from the beginning works to the more recent works.

Driver is an ex-con trying to make his life right but who shares an expensive secret and a past affair with his boss's wife - a woman who is nothing but trouble. Dickey's rich characters make listeners feel as if they are present in the hustle-filled pool hall, the bedroom, and the Lincoln Town Car that Driver chauffeurs his wealthy and notorious clients around in. Dickey's millions of fans will be happy to see the reappearance of a femme fatale from Thieves' Paradise, who adds spice and surprises every time she turns up.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Library Closed Today

All the libraries in the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District are closed today.

Have a wonderful day, and we'll see you when we re-open tomorrow (Saturday) at 10 AM.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The library is closed today!

All the libraries in the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District are closed today.

Today is a great day to spend with family and prepare for the visit from the Big Guy tonight!

We'll be open again Saturday morning at 10 AM.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday's New DVD Releases


Here are the releases for December 29th;

A Perfect Getaway – Cliff and Cydney (Steve Zahn and Milla Jovovich) are an adventurous young couple celebrating their honeymoon by backpacking to one of the most beautiful, and remote, beaches in Hawaii. Hiking the wild, secluded trails, they believe they’ve found paradise. But when the pair comes across a group of frightened hikers discussing the horrifying murder of another newlywed couple on the islands, they begin to question whether they should turn back. Unsure whether to stay or flee, Cliff and Cydney join up with two other couples, and things begin to go terrifyingly wrong. Far from civilization or rescue, everyone begins to look like a threat and nobody knows whom to trust. Paradise becomes hell on earth as a brutal battle for survival begins...

9- When 9 (The Lord of the Ring’s Elijah Wood) first comes to life, he finds himself in a post-apocalyptic world. All humans are gone, and it is only by chance that he discovers a small community of others like him taking refuge from fearsome machines that roam the earth intent on their extinction. Despite being the neophyte of the group, 9 convinces the others that hiding will do them no good. They must take the offensive if they are to survive, and they must discover why the machines want to destroy them in the first place. As they'll soon come to learn, the very future of civilization may depend on them.



Jennifer’s Body - A sexy horror film with a wicked sense of humor, "Jennifer's Body" is about small town high school student Jennifer (Megan Fox), who is possessed by a hungry demon. She transitions from being "high school evil" - gorgeous (and doesn't she know it), stuck up and ultra-attitudinal - to the real deal: evil/evil. The glittering beauty becomes a pale and sickly creature jonesing for a meaty snack, and guys who never stood a chance with the heartless babe, take on new luster in the light of Jennifer's insatiable appetite. Meanwhile, Jennifer's lifelong best friend Needy (Amanda Seyfried), long relegated to living in Jennifer's shadow must step-up to protect the town's young men, including her nerdy boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons).

Paranormal Activity - After a young, middle class couple moves into what seems like a typical suburban “starter” tract house, they become increasingly disturbed by a presence that may or may not be demonic but is certainly most active in the middle of the night... especially when they sleep... or try to.

This week’s release with the most requests is District 9 with 780 requests.

Monday, December 21, 2009

CD Spotlight - Ultimate R&B Cristmas



Title: The Ultimate R&B ChristmasAuthor: Various
Media type: Sound Recording
Genre: R&B/ Soul

This is one of the bets CDs that I have ever listened to. It features many famous R&B artists singing their own rendition of the classic Christmas songs that we have all grown to love. There is something for all ages because it features music from artists of every generation all the way back to the sixties. This is a must have during those Christmas parties and family gatherings, so make sure you get a copy to play at this years event.

Here are a few of the songs and artist’s featured on this CD;

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town - The Jackson 5
White Christmas - Otis Redding
Christmas Song - Nat King Cole

If this is not enough music for you, don’t forget there is a volume 2 as well, entitled, Ultimate R&B Christmas 2. Artist’s form this CD include;

I'll Be Home for Christmas - The Stylistics
Silent Night - The Temptations
Mistletoe and Me - Isaac Hayes

I hope you will enjoy these as much as I have. What Christmas CDs do you love time and time again that you and your family can’t live without each year?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Urban Fiction - Feature Author December - Eric Jerome Dickey


Title: Naughty or Nice
Author: Eric Jerome Dickey
Genre: Contemporary Urban Fiction

The Urban Fiction Author for the month of December is Eric Jerome Dickey.

Eric Jerome Dickey was born in Memphis, Tennessee and attended the University of Memphis (the former Memphis State), where he earned his degree in Computer System Technology. In 1983, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in engineering.

After landing a job in the aerospace industry as a software developer, Eric Jerome Dickey's artistic talents surfaced, inspiring him to become an actor and a stand-up comedian. Yet Eric quickly found out that writing was something he could do and do well. From creative writing classes to avidly consuming the works of his favorite authors, Eric Jerome Dickey began to shape a writing career of his own. Having written several scripts for his personal comedy act, he started writing poetry and short stories. The film work gave me insight into character development, the acting classes helped me understand motivation...All of it goes hand in hand, Eric explains. He joined the IBWA (International Black Writers and Artists), participated in their development workshops, and became a recipient of the IBWA SEED Scholarship to attend UCLA's Creative Writing classes.

I have been a long time fan of Dickey’s work. His books were very fast paced, with twisting plots that had you guessing to the end. I was disappointed recently when I tried to read the Gideon series. After that, his books became somewhat less enjoyable to read. He lost me, but I am still looking forward to his future works to see if he can once again claim me as a fan. I am highlighting some of his earlier works that got me hooked on his writing in the beginning. Read some of his earlier works and then compare them to his more recent works and see what you think. We would love to see how you liked or disliked the variance in the writing from the beginning works to the more recent works.

Eric Jerome Dickey explores the lives of three sisters, each with their own man problems. But this holiday season, Frankie, Livvy, and Tommie McBroom are not only getting together, but finally gettin' it together--and discovering what family, sisterhood, and love are all about.
Making a list? Checking it twice? Eric Jerome Dickey knows who's naughty or nice. The "New York Times bestselling author promises to deliver all the humor, heart, and superb storytelling that have made him one of the biggest names in African-American fiction. Wrapped up in a gift-sized, gift-priced, beautiful package, Naughty or Nice has all the elements Eric Jerome Dickey's fans have come to love--humor, heart, and soul, with a considerable dose of spice to thaw out those cold winter nights. Hot on the heels of his surefire summer blockbuster, The Other Woman, Naughty or Nice is the present every Dickey fan will want to give as a gift (and keep for themselves)!

This is a surefire holiday read that will have you hooked until the end. Very fast paced as Dickey is known for, but heartwarming and juicy at the same time. The holidays are a time to spend with family, but why not sneak away for a few hours and enjoy some quiet time with this wonderful story of someone else’s family drama?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review: Storey's Guide to Raising Beef Cattle

Storey's Guide to Raising Beef Cattle
by Heather Smith Thomas

Forward by Baxter Black, DVM

This book is literally what it claims to be; it is not a novel. I confess I have not read this book, only the forward and then skimmed through the rest. This book is fascinating precisely because it puts into words so many things that cowboy poet and veterinarian, Baxter Black, admits to having trouble articulating.

The chapter titles seem straightforward enough, like:
  • Feeding cattle
  • Growing and breeding heifers
  • Care of the pregnant cow
  • Calving
But apparently the details can get downright complicated, even difficult. Suffice to say there is enough detail to make even fans of the television show "Dirty Jobs" squeamish.

I recommend this book for the education on raising cattle but mostly just for the 2-page forward by Baxter Black. You've never laughed so hard while reading a book on animal husbandry! I'd like to think this book could come in handy for a school assignment, perhaps even something related to Nevada history, but that may be wishful thinking.

(On a nearby shelf, I found a book that gets my nomination for having the most unusual title in the library--Hunter Seat Equitation--strange because it probably most precisely names what the book is about!)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Graphic Novel Review: Groo: Hell on Earth

Groo: Hell on Earth
by Sergio Aragones
Genre: Humor

Groo the Wanderer, the most dangerous and dumbest barbarian in the world, is at it again. Through his own carelessness, he singlehandedly escalates pollution and aggression throughout an entire region. At the same time, the Sage (one of the wisest men in the land) realizes the increased levels of pollution may have serious long-term effects. Groo finds employment doing what he does best (killing people in pointless wars) while the Sage tries to get the leaders of the region to focus on long-term solutions to their environmental problems, instead of letting themselves be distracted by short-term problems like pointless wars. What are the chances it’ll all fall apart? Does a duck quack? Does Groo love bean dip and a good fray?

Readers of Mad Magazine will be familiar with cartoonist Sergio Aragones’ work if they pay close attention; he’s the artist who draws the tiny cartoons in the margins. For over 25 years he and co-writer Mark Evanier have been producing the adventures of Groo the Wanderer, the dumbest barbarian in the world. The art, while cartoony and exaggerated, is incredibly detailed. Think of the level of detail in the pages of Where’s Waldo, and you’ll have some idea what I mean.

The humor comes primarily from Groo’s well-meaning but stupid mistakes, which inevitably leave a trail of death and destruction in his wake. It’s simple, obvious, and hilarious. The timing of each joke, the way Aragones and Evanier set up and then deliver the punchline, is impeccable. These are masters at work.

The environmental message and political allegories aren’t particularly subtle. Of course, nothing about Groo is particularly subtle, so that’s par for the course. And while the commentary does give the story some additional weight, nobody should be reading Groo for a serious message. They should read Groo because it makes them laugh. And that’s really what Groo does best.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday's New DVD Releases


Here are the releases for December 22nd;

All About Steve - The Proposal's, Sandra Bullock, Oscar® nominee Thomas Haden Church, and The Hangover's, Bradley Cooper star in a hilarious tale of a woman who, after falling hard for a guy, thinks they're an item; unfortunately, he thinks she's stalking him!Bullock's Mary Horowitz is a cruciverbalist - a crossword puzzle constructor. Her brain spins at warp speed with an endless stream of arcane information. She can come up with the perfect word - and dozens with the same meaning - at a moment's notice, but normal behavior eludes her.Take, for example, the fact that she lives with eccentric parents. Or her inability to engage in social intercourse without dropping a litany of twenty-dollar words and unleashing a tsunami of trivia. Then, there's the matter of her omnipresent fire-engine-red go-go boots.For Mary, nothing is typical, especially relationships. When she is set up on a blind date with handsome cable-news cameraman Steve, Mary thinks the chemistry is undeniable - that Steve is the one. Steve, on the other hand, thinks Mary is crazy. Mary, who just knows she's found her soul mate, decides to do anything and go anywhere to be with him. She begins to pursue Steve relentlessly as he crisscrosses the country, covering breaking news stories.Mary's escalating infatuation with Steve is encouraged by the self-serving actions of news reporter Hartman Hughes (Thomas Haden Church), who enjoys torturing his insolent cameraman at every opportunity. With Mary never far behind and Hartman urging her on, Steve becomes increasingly unhinged.But when Mary becomes embroiled in the news story of the year, Steve and Hartman begin to see her differently. Hartman is plagued by guilt, knowing his game of one-upmanship with Steve has placed her squarely in harms way, while Steve is feeling his own pangs of remorse at his callous behavior. Despite the media storm surrounding her, Mary with her upbeat, unaffected manner brings together a small community of new friends. And all who encounter Mary will realize that sometimes the ones who don't fit in are the ones who really stand out.

(500) Days of Summer- This post modern love story is never what we expect it to be -- it's thorny yet exhilarating, funny and sad, a twisted journey of highs and lows that doesn't quite go where we think it will. When Tom (Gordon-Levitt), a hapless greeting card copywriter and hopeless romantic, is blindsided after his girlfriend Summer (Zooey Deschanel) dumps him, he shifts back and forth through various periods of their 500 days together to try to figure out where things went wrong. His reflections ultimately lead him to finally rediscover his true passions in life.

District 9 - Twenty-eight years ago, aliens made first contact with Earth. Humans waited for the hostile attack, or the giant advances in technology. Neither came. Instead, the aliens were refugees, the last survivors of their home world. The creatures were set up in a makeshift home in South Africa’s District 9 as the world's nations argue over what to do with them. Now, patience over the alien situation has run out. Control over the aliens has been contracted out to Multi-National United (MNU), a private company uninterested in the aliens' welfare – they will receive tremendous profits if they can make the aliens' awesome weaponry work.

Extract - In Extract, writer/director Mike Judge (Beavis and Butt-Head, King of the Hill) returns to the fertile territory of the American workplace, rotating his perspective away from the white collar cubicle warriors of Office Space and towards a blue collar boss – a small business owner – who employs an odd cast of losers, loners and misfits in his flavor extract factory.To the outside eye, Joel Reynold (Jason Bateman) seems to have everything. After all, being the owner of a business he built from the ground up - with its patented brand of culinary extracts - should make the Extract King a happy man.However, if Joel hasn't reached his front door by 8 o'clock, he'll find his wife, Suzie (Kristen Wiig) cinching up her sweatpants – and about as interested in him as he is in her mastery of supermarket coupon design. Sexually frustrated, Joel confides in his best pal, Dean (Ben Affleck), a barkeep – and soon finds himself wrapped up in a convoluted scheme to make Suzie cheat on him first with a dim-witted gigolo (Dustin Milligan) – thereby allowing him to pursue beautiful new employee Cindy (Mila Kunis) with a clear conscience. Unbeknownst to Joel, the object of his affections is a con artist/sociopath - just one step away from having her parole revoked.Meanwhile, Joel and his second-in-command, Brian (J.K. Simmons) have entered negotiations for a buyout of Reynold Extracts by General Mills. All they need to do is keep things tidy, quiet and moving while waiting for the final offer.

Of course, this fails to take into account the employees on the factory floor: Step (Clifton Collins, Jr.), a machismo-ridden doofus and self-proclaimed fastest sorter with lofty aspirations of rising to Floor Manager; Rory (T.J. Miller), a goth-rock geek who spends more time passing out flyers for his band than shuffling extract bottles; and Mary (Beth Grant), a fanny-packed, bitter slouch at the end of the assembly line who'd rather fold her arms and shake her head than keep life at Reynold moving along – which is exactly what she's doing when a bottleneck occurs on the line, resulting in a chain of accidents that cost poor Step a portion of his manhood.Seeing a big payday, the con-artist temp woos the otherwise-loyal Step, convincing him to sue for millions, engaging bus bench lawyer Joe Adler (KISS's Gene Simmons) to fight for his rights – regardless of the fact that doing so will cost Joel the factory.With his dry wit and remarkable ear for character and dialogue, Mike Judge brings his trademark flavor to these seemingly disparate threads, tying them together into an antic comedy about life in the middle.

This week’s release with the most requests is The Hangover with 967 requests.

Monday, December 14, 2009

CD Spotlight - Mario - D.N.A.


Title: D.N.A.
Author: Mario
Media type: Sound Recording
Genre: R&B/ Soul

Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, R&B vocalist Mario started to develop his natural talent while singing along with his mom using a karaoke machine at home. Discovered at the age of 11 in a local talent show, he later traveled to New York City to establish a career and scored a contract with Clive Davis' J label. At the age of 15, Mario debuted with the release of Just a Friend 2002, produced by Warryn Campbell and based on rapper Biz Markie's hit Just a Friend. His self-titled album followed in July, featuring contributions by Grammy-winning Alicia Keys. Turning Point, released in 2004, went to number two on the R&B album chart, hoisted by the ubiquitous smash Let Me Love You, a single that also helped launch the career of Ne-Yo, the song's writer. (Retrieved December 13, 2009, Lyricsyoulove.com)

Although Mario is only 22, he has been around for about 7 years, which places him in that longevity category. His music has evolved since he first became well known at the ripe age of 15. His music has become timeless and in my mind, he will forever be attributed to one of my favorite songs, entitled, “You Should Let Me Love You.” I had listened to his music before, but after this song, I began to look at him in a whole new light. He mixes R&B with Hip Hop, but I still prefer the slower songs that are more R&B than Hip Hop. He has truly become one of my favorite artists to listen too. His voice has so much depth, that you can actually feel the emotion when he sings. Well, needless to say, I was thrilled when I found out he has a new CD out.

The song that I will spotlight today is entitled Thinking of You. I really enjoyed listening to this song, but I was confused after I saw the video. In the video, his girlfriend is leaving, but it does not say whether they are breaking up. So is he still thinking of her when he meets someone new, or has she been replaced by thoughts of the other girl? Not sure, but take a look and tell me what you think.

Thinking of You
When the after party is over
And everyone around us is leaving
That's when I want you to come closer
Shawty your the only one that I'm needing
So when the after party is over
And for no particular reason
I want you to pull me in closer
And tell me that tonight you ain't leaving

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Juvenile Nonfiction: Shelter Dogs


Title: Shelter Dogs: Amazing Stories of Adopted Strays
Author: Peg Kehret
Photographs by Greg Farrar
Genre: Juvenile Nonfiction

Media Type : Book

Do you like dogs? Try Shelter Dogs: Amazing Stories of Adopted Strays written by Peg Kehret. This book tells the true stories of eight stray dogs that were saved by animal shelters. These dogs went on to accomplish great things under the care of loving owners who adopted them. A service dog, a movie star, and a life-saving hero are among the dogs that are sure to interest even reluctant readers.

Shelter Dogs is organized into eight chapters, each featuring a different adopted dog. A black and white photograph introduces each chapter. Then a moving story about the dog is told with simple, direct language and humor. At the end of each chapter, information is appended for those seeking further knowledge about a topic in the dog’s story. Because of its appealing subject matter and the way it’s told in short segments, this 144-page book will entice reluctant readers and also will make a great read-aloud for elementary and middle school students.

Children and grown-ups will be inspired by these stories of patience, compassion, and discipline. This book will lead to great discussions about responsibility and caring for others. It may also motivate readers to adopt dogs themselves.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Urban Fiction - Feature Author December - Eric Jerome Dickey


Title: Chasing Destiny
Author: Eric Jerome Dickey
Genre: Contemporary Urban Fiction

The Urban fiction Author for the month of December is Eric Jerome Dickey

Eric Jerome Dickey was born in Memphis, Tennessee and attended the University of Memphis (the former Memphis State), where he earned his degree in Computer System Technology. In 1983, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in engineering.

After landing a job in the aerospace industry as a software developer, Eric Jerome Dickey's artistic talents surfaced, inspiring him to become an actor and a stand-up comedian. Yet Eric quickly found out that writing was something he could do and do well. From creative writing classes to avidly consuming the works of his favorite authors, Eric Jerome Dickey began to shape a writing career of his own. Having written several scripts for his personal comedy act, he started writing poetry and short stories. The film work gave me insight into character development, the acting classes helped me understand motivation...All of it goes hand in hand, Eric explains. He joined the IBWA (International Black Writers and Artists), participated in their development workshops, and became a recipient of the IBWA SEED Scholarship to attend UCLA's Creative Writing classes.

I have been a long time fan of Dickey’s work. His books were very fast paced, with twisting plots that had you guessing to the end. I was disappointed recently when I tried to read the Gideon series. After that, his books became somewhat less enjoyable to read. He lost me, but I am still looking forward to his future works to see if he can once again claim me as a fan. I am highlighting some of his earlier works that got me hooked on his writing in the beginning. Read some of his earlier works and then compare them to his more recent works and see what you think. We would love to see how you liked or disliked the variance in the writing from the beginning works to the more recent works.

Destiny, a 15-year-old dancing on the edge of womanhood, disappears in the company of low friends in dark places. And in chasing Destiny, her father, his lover, and estranged wife find their lives inextricably linked by a dangerous and seductive pursuit.

Billie is as notorious for her beauty as she is for the hot yellow Ducati motorcycle she rides down L.A.'s meanest streets. Tough and talented, she does things her way. Until an unplanned pregnancy spins her life out of control. Her problem: Her lover Keith's divorce decree has been revoked, forcing him to choose between Billie and his dangerously manipulative wife, Carmen, along with their troubled and deceptive daughter, Destiny, a fifteen-year-old dancing on the edge of womanhood. Horrific things happen when Keith's daughter disappears in the company of low friends in dark places. And in chasing Destiny, Billie, Keith, and Carmen find their lives inextricably linked by a dangerous and seductive pursuit-at any speed, at any cost.

Friday, December 11, 2009

CD Review: Christmas in the Heart by Bob Dylan

Christmas in the Heart
by Bob Dylan
Genre - Pop/Christmas

I had to laugh when I heard Bob Dylan was releasing a Christmas CD! A Christmas CD just seems like the antithesis of Bob Dylan. (At least he is donating all of the profit to charity.)

To be honest, I was disappointed. The tracks just didn't live up to my expectations, musically speaking. I was hoping for something more rough around the edges. The recording sounds too straight and even too commercial for what I expect from Dylan.

It deserves a listen, but probably only one.

For now, I'm eagerly awaiting a Christmas recording by Tom Waits--if he ever makes one. Maybe he will produce what I had hoped Dylan would.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mike’s Hardboiled Mystery Picks

MIKE'S MYSTERIES

Mike, out at the Enterprise Library, always has a great hardboiled mystery on tap. He's the man to see if you need to feed your gritty mystery addiction. Each month, Mike suggests three wonderful authors in the down and dirty mystery genre. Here are his picks for the month:

James W. Hall - Thorn P.I, the protagonist, lives in Key Largo, selling hand-tied fish flies. Nineteen years after the death of his parents, Thorn avenged their deaths by causing the death of the drunk driver responsible. Now, at thirty-nine, he is emotionally scarred from this act when his adoptive mother is raped and murdered. His chase for those responsible will leave you wanting the next book in the series. Thorn is one of the more unusual characters in mystery fiction. This series would be of interest to fans of Randy Wayne White. Under Cover of Daylight is the first of eleven books in this series.

Harry Hunsicker - This series, set in Dallas, features private investigator Lee Henry Oswald who is also a Gulf War veteran and loner. Living in Dallas and having the last name Oswald doesn’t make his life any easier. A simple case soon turns into a struggle for his and his partner’s life. This book is very well written and will appeal to fans of Michael Connelly and Dennis Lehane. Still River is the first of three books in this series.

Stuart Kaminsky - While this recently deceased author is better known for his Inspector Rostnikov series, I’m a fan of the Lew Fonesca series. Lew Fonesca quit his job as a researcher for the State's Attorney's office in Cook County, Illinois. As he was heading south for Key West, his destination was changed by fate when his car broke down in a Dairy Queen parking lot in Sarasota. Not being overly ambitious, Lew rents an office/apartment across the parking lot from the Dairy Queen and does investigative work for local attorneys. Vengeance is the first of six books in this series.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Book Review: Shop Class as Soulcraft


Shop Class as Soulcraft
By Matthew Crawford

Author Matthew Crawford has a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago, but he owns and operates the Shockoe Moto motorcycle repair shop in Richmond, VA.

I don't agree with Crawford completely, but I do think he is right to point out that the centuries-long transition from an economy of tradespeople to mass production and hyper-specialization is ongoing.

Despite increasing levels of education, many workers, especially white-collar workers struggle to find "meaningful work" in corporations that often do not value self-reliance. Crawford says that these two phrases are tied to a struggle for individual agency, which he sees as a central challenge of modern life (7, original emphasis). While blue collar work in the trades has kept some of its autonomy, certainly in the public mind this kind of work has been demeaned.

There are times when Crawford seems to criticize technological development simply as dumbing down material culture. For example, he goes to great lengths to praise the mental effort required to kickstart a vintage motorcycle and manually pump oil to lubricate the engine while riding. Carrying this logic to its extreme would seem to imply that the most difficult way of doing a thing is the best way!

In his call for greater autonomy, Crawford reminds me of an earlier book I reviewed, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown. That book also emphasized the need for children and adults to be able to choose their activities, at least when playing.

I find parallels in a friend who turned to dairy farming after graduating from college in computer science and now has a partnerth a partner, a former CPA, who gave up accounting full-time to milk cows 3 times a day, beginning at 5 a.m.

While I don't agree with all of Crawford's argument, it is thought-provoking, and for that I give it a qualified recommendation.

Other related books that you might enjoy include:


Limbo: Blue Collar Roots, White Collar Dreams by Alfred Lubrano




The Mind at Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker
by Mike Rose





The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday's New DVD Releases


Here are the releases for December 15th;

The Hangover - Two days before his wedding, Doug and his three friends drive to Las Vegas for a blow-out bachelor party they'll never forget. But, in fact, when the three groomsmen wake up the next morning, they can't remember a thing. For some reason, they find a tiger in the bathroom and a six-month-old baby in the closet of their suite at Caesars Palace. The one thing they can't find is Doug. With no clue as to what transpired and little time to spare, the trio must retrace their hazy steps and all their bad decisions in order to figure out where things went wrong and hopefully get Doug back to L.A. in time to walk down the aisle.

Inglourious Basterds - Begins in German-occupied France, where Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) witnesses the execution of her family at the hand of Nazi Colonel Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz). Shosanna narrowly escapes and flees to Paris, where she forges a new identity as the owner and operator of a cinema. Elsewhere in Europe, Lieutenant Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) organizes a group of Jewish soldiers to engage in targeted acts of retribution. Known to their enemy as "The Basterds," Raine's squad joins German actress and undercover agent Bridget Von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) on a mission to take down the leaders of The Third Reich. Fates converge under a cinema marquee, where Shosanna is poised to carry out a revenge plan of her own...

Taking Woodstock - A generation began in his backyard... From Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee ("Brokeback Mountain," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"), comes "Taking Woodstock," a new comedy inspired by the true story of Elliot Tiber (Demetri Martin) and his family, who inadvertently played a pivotal role in making the famed Woodstock Music and Arts Festival into the happening that it was.It's 1969, and Elliot Tiber, a down-on-his-luck interior designer in Greenwich Village, New York, has to move back upstate to help his parents run their dilapidated Catskills motel, The El Monaco. The bank's about to foreclose; his father wants to burn the place down, but hasn't paid the insurance; and Elliot is still figuring how to come out to his parents.When Elliot hears that a neighboring town has pulled the permit on a hippie music festival, he calls the producers, thinking he could drum up some much-needed business for the motel. Three weeks later, half a million people are on their way to his neighbor's farm in White Lake, NY, and Elliot finds himself swept up in a generation-defining experience that would change his life, and American culture, forever.

This week’s release with the most requests is Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince with 684requests.

Monday, December 7, 2009

CD Review: The List by Rosanne Cash


Title - The List
Artist - Rosanne Cash
Genre - Country

I used to be an avowed Country Music hater. My taste in music gravitates toward Blues, Baroque, Bebop, and Progressive Metal (of all things). Not even, the movie Walk the Line converted me.

But now, Rosanne Cash's latest CD has finally won me over. Maybe it is the fact that she is singing a dozen of the 100 Greatest Country songs ever, as compiled by her father on a tour bus in 1973. Certainly having the right lyrics and melodies helps, but more than that, I think this recording nails the fundamentals. Nothing is overdone just for the sake of being flashy. There is a purity to the music that is so often lacking from other artists.

It does help that Rosanne sings several duets with artists not typically associated with Country music. This helps bridge the gap for an outsider like me. These artists include: Rufus Wainright, Elvis Costello, and not least Bruce Springsteen, singing on Sea of heartbreak.

The latter is my favorite track, and apparently Rosanne's, based on the number of times I heard her sing it during interviews. The song was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.

I can't call myself a Country fan yet, but I definitely had my horizons expanded. How's that for a Country and Western image?

I highly recommend The List by Rosanne Cash!

(Plus, whoever thought a bass clarinet would make an appearance on a Country CD!)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Urban Fiction - Feature Author December - Eric Jerome Dickey


Title: Cheaters
Author: Eric Jerome Dickey
Genre: Contemporary Urban Fiction

The Urban fiction Author for the month of December is Eric Jerome Dickey

Eric Jerome Dickey was born in Memphis, Tennessee and attended the University of Memphis (the former Memphis State), where he earned his degree in Computer System Technology. In 1983, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in engineering.

After landing a job in the aerospace industry as a software developer, Eric Jerome Dickey's artistic talents surfaced, inspiring him to become an actor and a stand-up comedian. Yet Eric quickly found out that writing was something he could do and do well. From creative writing classes to avidly consuming the works of his favorite authors, Eric Jerome Dickey began to shape a writing career of his own. Having written several scripts for his personal comedy act, he started writing poetry and short stories. The film work gave me insight into character development, the acting classes helped me understand motivation...All of it goes hand in hand, Eric explains. He joined the IBWA (International Black Writers and Artists), participated in their development workshops, and became a recipient of the IBWA SEED Scholarship to attend UCLA's Creative Writing classes. (Retrieved 11/22/2009, http://www.ericjeromedickey.com/)

I have been a long time fan of Dickey’s work. His books were very fast paced, with twisting plots that had you guessing to the end. I was disappointed recently when I tried to read the Gideon series. After that, his books became somewhat less enjoyable to read. He lost me, but I am still looking forward to his future works to see if he can once again claim me as a fan. I am highlighting some of his earlier works that got me hooked on his writing in the beginning. Read some of his earlier works and then compare them to his more recent works and see what you think. We would love to see how you liked or disliked the variance in the writing from the beginning works to the more recent works.

Review by Crystal Williams (BookPage Review)

Cheaters is a 368-page Jerry Springer moment. Both of Dickey's main characters, Chante and Stephan, are poster children for dysfunctional people. Stephan is a self-described player—although his game is a bit off. In fact, he gets caught at his own game and finds out what the wrath of a woman scorned can be. Chante, on the other hand, finds herself in between being dumped and being the "other" woman. Needless to say, these two misfits meet, feign disinterest, and fall rapidly into fledgling, drama-packed romance.
The secondary characters are particularly intriguing. Dawn is an unsupportive wife. Darnell is her misunderstood husband and a struggling writer. Tammy is a creative spirit who captures Darnell's imagination. What will happen? Will Darnell and Tammy cheat? Why? Why not? Readers will want to find out.

Dickey's best attribute is his ability to effortlessly capture the language of the Hip Hop generation. For example, after visiting a museum with Stephan, Chante says, "We checked out Rhapsodies in Black, a phat [superb] showcase of art from the Harlem Renaissance." It's this almost perfect intonation—in this case, the right balance between colloquial and proper speech—that makes Cheaters feel and sound real. Also, unlike many of his contemporaries, Dickey doesn't rely on cheap tricks like placing Chante in designer clothing to signal her social status. Instead, we get class-based tension between Chante and her friend Karen, which allows for a richer narrative.

While Dickey opens interesting doors, readers are not always pulled through them—a slight frustration. Issues such as class and cast are mentioned but not aptly dealt with. Still, Mr. Dickey didn't set out to formally address such serious issues. Instead, Cheaters reads like a beach book—it's fun, full of raunchy behavior and great one-liners.
One hopes real people don't behave so badly. But, this reviewer will admit, it's enjoyable to read about characters that do. Jerry Springer would gladly pay these characters to be on his show.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Movie Review: The Reading Room



Imagine Darth Vader as a librarian!

Well, not quite Darth Vader and not quite a librarian, but James Earl Jones--the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies--plays William Campbell, a retired widower in this low-budget, but heart warming film. On her deathbed, Campbell's wife instructed him to take the books from the beautiful library in their mansion and open a reading room in a store front they owned in a rundown neighborhood.

While the dialogue can seem a bit contrived at times, the scenes seem to cover the range of issues facing rundown neighborhoods. Soon after William opens the reading room, the computer is stolen. William offers to hire the thief as a security guard and not press charges as long as he shows up to work.

One 7-year-old girl seeking help with her reading is forbidden by her mother to come to the reading room because the girl is needed to babysit her younger brother. A high school student comes looking for an SAT study guide, but refuses to take it home because he knows he will be hassled for trying to attend college. This movie reminds me of what the public library offers at our best.

A book on a related theme that you might enjoy is:




Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday's New DVD Releases

Here are the releases for December 8th;

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Voldemort is tightening his grip on both the Muggle and wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry suspects that dangers may even lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. Together they work to find the key to unlock Voldemort's defenses and, to this end, Dumbledore recruits his old friend and colleague, the well-connected and unsuspecting bon vivant Professor Horace Slughorn, whom he believes holds crucial information. Meanwhile, the students are under attack from a very different adversary as teenage hormones rage across the ramparts. Harry finds himself more and more drawn to Ginny, but so is Dean Thomas. And Lavender Brown has decided that Ron is the one for her, only she hadn't counted on Romilda Vane's chocolates! And then there's Hermione, simpering with jealously but determined not to show her feelings. As romance blossoms, one student remains aloof. He is determined to make his mark, albeit a dark one. Love is in the air, but tragedy lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same again.

Julie & Julia - Meryl Streep is Julia Child and Amy Adams is Julie Powell in writer-director Nora Ephron's adaptation of two bestselling memoirs: Powell's Julie & Julia and My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme. Based on two true stories, Julie & Julia intertwines the lives of two women who, though separated by time and space, are both at loose ends...until they discover that with the right combination of passion, fearlessness and butter, anything is possible.

Public Enemies – In the action-thriller Public Enemies, acclaimed filmmaker Michael Mann directs Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Academy Award® winner Marion Cotillard in the story of legendary Depression-era outlaw John Dillinger (Depp)—the charismatic bank robber whose lightning raids made him the number one target of J. Edgar Hoover's fledgling FBI and its top agent, Melvin Purvis (Bale), and a folk hero to much of the downtrodden public.

No one could stop Dillinger and his gang. No jail could hold him. His charm and audacious jailbreaks endeared him to almost everyone—from his girlfriend Billie Frechette (Cotillard) to an American public who had no sympathy for the banks that had plunged the country into the Depression.

But while the adventures of Dillinger's gang—later including the sociopathic Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham) and Alvin Karpis (Giovanni Ribisi)—thrilled many, Hoover (Billy Crudup) hit on the idea of exploiting the outlaw's capture as a way to elevate his Bureau of Investigation into the national police force that became the FBI. He made Dillinger America's first Public Enemy Number One and sent in Purvis, the dashing "Clark Gable of the FBI."

However, Dillinger and his gang outwitted and outgunned Purvis' men in wild chases and shootouts. Only after importing a crew of Western ex-lawmen (newly baptized as agents) and orchestrating epic betrayals—from the infamous Lady in Red to the Chicago crime boss Frank Nitti—were Purvis, the FBI and their new crew of gunfighters able to close in on Dillinger.

This week’s release with the most requests is Terminator Salvation with 744 requests.