Friday, February 23, 2018

Friday Reads: Phasma

It's Friday! Public Services Librarian Kelly Clever is listening to the audiobook of Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson and narrated by January LaVoy. Her thoughts:

Kelly Clever is listening to Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson

"Even though I consider myself a pretty big Star Wars fan, I never read any of the books until relatively recently. My knowledge of the old EU (Expanded Universe for you muggles) came exclusively from spending way too much time on back in high school. With the reboot of the canon, however, I feel like I have a chance to get in on the ground floor… not that I’ll be able to keep up.

Phasma had only brief appearances in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, but like Boba Fett before her, she managed to capture popular imagination with her cool armor. Phasma gives us her back story, told in a frame-narrative format. I wasn’t sure that I’d really want to listen to a long (over 12 hours!) character exploration of one of the baddies, but the frame story involves a Resistance spy and a First Order officer who has some redeeming qualities. I’m enjoying their interaction and I want to know how Phasma’s past is going to impact their choices.

Like all of the Star Wars titles I’ve listened to as audiobooks, this one is 'enhanced' with sound effects and music from the films. I’d been skeptical about that concept, but they are well-done and, for me, the extras really do add to the experience."

Friday, February 16, 2018

Friday Reads: Travels with My Aunt

Happy Friday! Serials Librarian Judith Koveleskie is reading Travels with My Aunt by Graham Greene. Here's what she has to say:

Judith Koveleskie is reading Travels with My Aunt

Although I think of Graham Greene as a more serious novelist, I am enjoying this book filled with unexpected surprises and delightful humor.  I have just started reading it, but am captivated by the characters and thoroughly enjoying it.  Here is the summary from Goodreads.

Described by Graham Greene as "the only book I have written just for the fun of it," Travels with My Aunt is the story of Hanry Pulling, a retired and complacent bank manager who meets his septuagenarian Aunt Augusta for the first time at what he supposes to be his mother's funeral. She soon persuades Henry to abandon his dull suburban existence to travel her way—winding through Brighton, Paris, Istanbul, and Paraguay. Through Aunt Augusta, one of Greene's greatest comic creations, Henry joins a shiftless, twilight society; mixes with hippies, war criminals, and CIA men; smokes pot; and breaks all currency regulations.

Originally published in 1970, Travels with My Aunt offers intoxicating entertainment, yet also confronts some of the most perplexing human dilemmas.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Friday Reads: Last Night in Twisted River

This Friday our cataloging & acquisitions librarian, Adam Pellman, shares a little about his current read:

Adam Pellman is reading Last Night in Twisted River

"I'm doing a reading challenge this year that requires me to read one book published each year between my birth and now.  I'm just young enough to pull it off.  I've been meaning for years to read one of John Irving's novels, so Last Night in Twisted River seemed like a good choice for a book from 2009.  It's about a father and son who spend decades as fugitives after an accidental killing in a New Hampshire logging camp.  We have several of Irving's earlier novels in our fiction collection here at Seton Hill, so if I enjoy this book, I'll check out one of his other novels, maybe The World According to Garp."

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Reading Theme: Romantic Fiction

We’re doing the cliche thing and featuring romances for the month of February. Within that broad genre, however, you’ll find thrillers, literary fiction, bodice-busters, and tear-jerkers. And February is also Black History Month, so you’ll see a couple of asterisks (**) next to the books featuring Black protagonists.

Image courtesy of

**The Hand I Fan with by Tina McElroy Ansa
Lena, now forty-five and tired of being "the hand everyone fans with," has grown weary of shouldering the town's problems and wants to find a little love and companionship for herself.  So she and a friend perform a supernatural ritual to conjure up a man for Lena.  She gets one all right: a ghost named Herman who, though dead for one hundred years, is full of life and all man.  His love changes Lena's life forever, satisfying as never before both her physical and spiritual needs. (Publisher’s summary)

The Forest House by Marion Zimmer Bradley
In a Britain struggling to survive Roman invasion, Eilan is the daughter of a Druidic warleader, gifted with visions and marked by fate to become a priestess of the Forest House.

But fate also led Eilan to Gaius, a soldier of mixed blood, son of the Romans sent to subdue the native British. For Gaius, Eilan felt forbidden love, and her terrible secret will haunt her even as she is anointed as the new High Priestess. With mighty enemies poised to destroy the magic the Forest House shelters, Eilan must trust in the power of the great Goddess to lead her through the treacherous labyrinth of her destiny. (Publisher’s summary)

Possession by A.S. Byatt
"Possession" is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once an intellectual mystery and a triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets. As they uncover their letters, journals, and poems, and track their movements from London to Yorkshire -- from spiritualist seances to the fairy-haunted far west of Brittany -- what emerges is an extraordinary counterpoint of passions and ideas. (Publisher’s summary)

Crazy for You by Jennifer Crusie
Quinn McKenzie has always lived what she calls a "beige" life... It's a perfectly happy and secure life, [but] she's bored to the point of insanity.

But when Quinn decides to change her life by adopting a stray dog over everyone's objections, everything begins to spiral out of control. Soon a man from her past comes back into her life and the old attraction is ignited again. Now she's coping with dog-napping, breaking and entering, seduction, sabotage, stalking, more secrets than she really wants to know, and two men who are suddenly crazy...for her. (Publisher’s summary)

Keeper of the Bride by Tess Gerritsen
Nina Cormier would have been a beautiful bride, had the groom bothered to show up. But when the empty church exploded, Nina got the message. Someone was after the bride-to-be. Portland cop Sam Navarro was no white knight. He'd protect Nina, but there was no way he would put them both at risk by falling in love with her. (Publisher’s summary)

Liberty’s Lady by Karen Harper
On the eve of the Revolutionary War, one woman is about to betray her own heart by falling in love with her sworn enemy. Journalist Libby Morgan uses her newspaper to fan the flames of revolt against England. Cameron Gant, New York aristocrat, tory and secret spy, is the prime target of her rhetoric. Sworn enemies by their divided loyalties, they are drawn into a passion that does not recognize sides. Soon they are risking their lives and their love in a daring masquerade that could end in liberty--or death. (Publisher’s summary)

Julie by Catherine Marshall
Julie Wallace is just eighteen in 1934 when her father risks their life savings on a struggling newspaper and moves the family to a flood-prone Pennsylvania town.

It is here a young woman's convictions take firm root, as Julie finds herself taking sides when battle lines are drawn between desperate steelworkers and the mill owners who control their lives. And it is here where her heart and her loyalties are torn, divided between two special men. But when a devastating natural catastrophe becomes the ultimate test of courage and commitment, Julie's remarkable inner strength will come to the fore -- a strength born of faith and love. (Goodreads reviewer Loraine)

**Seduction by Felicia Mason
Award-winning journalist C.J. Mayview leaves behind her career and commitments to seek peace of mind in Serentiy Falls. U.S. Marshal Wes Donovan is in the business of uncovering secrets. His curiosity is piqued by the lovely city sophisticate who doesn't seem to possess a past. And when C.J. becomes caught up in a shocking conspiracy that soon ensnares Donovan as well, she and Donovan must trust each other to save themselves--and their love. (Publisher’s summary)

**How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan
A holiday in Jamaica turns into sizzling romance for 42-year-old Stella Payne, a black divorcee and financial security analyst, when she meets Winston Shakespeare, a local assistant cook. Stella invites him to San Francisco to show him off to friends and to her 11-year-old son, and Shakespeare is a hit. Only problem, Shakespeare is 20 years old. (Publisher’s summary)

My Phillipe by Barbara Miller
Returning to England after years abroad with Wellington's army -- first as an officer's daughter, then trapped in a loveless marriage with a military man -- recently widowed Bella MacFarlane longs only to raise her son, Jamie, on the farm she inherited from her father. That soon proves to be a battle she cannot win, for Jamie is the new duke of Dorney, and his guardian is a man she dreads facing -- her late husband's cousin, Phillipe Armitage. Four years before, Bella and Phillipe had shared a single night of passion. But when Phillipe was captured by the French, Bella surrendered to his cousin's marriage proposal...only to discover that the man she had loved and thought dead survives... Now, though Bella is free once more, memories of her supposed treachery forestall any thought of reconciliation. But when danger threatens both Bella and the child under their protection, he charges to their defense, determined to win a lifetime of happiness for them all. (Publisher’s summary)

**Jazz by Toni Morrison
In Harlem, 1926, Joe Trace, a door-to-door salemsan in his fifties, kills his teenage lover. At the funeral, his wife Violet slashes the dead girl's face and then desperately searches to find why Joe was unfaithful. The profound love story is immersed in the sights and sounds of Black urban life during the Jazz Age. (Publisher’s summary)

An Officer and a Gentleman by Steven Phillip Smith
A timeless tale of romance, friendship, and growth. Loner Zack Mayo enters Officer Candidate School to become a Navy pilot and in thirteen weeks he learns the importance of discipline, love and friendship. (Publisher’s summary)

A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
A romance featuring a troublesome teenager in North Carolina who is changed for the better by the love of a girl. She is the angelic daughter of a local minister and the boy joins her in doing good deeds. But she has a secret which will break his heart. (Publisher’s summary)

Five Days in Paris by Danielle Steel
The president of a major pharmaceutical company and the unhappy wife of a famous senator meet under dire circumstances in Paris, and everything in which they believe is put on the line.  (Publisher’s summary)

The Bridges of Madison County by Robert J. Waller
When Robert Kincaid drives through the heat and dust of an Iowa summer and turns into Francesca Johnson's farm lane looking for directions, the world-class photographer and the Iowa farm wife are joined in an experience of uncommon truth and stunning beauty that will haunt them forever. (Publisher’s summary)

**Two Cities: A Love Story by John Edgar Wideman
A redemptive, healing novel, Two Cities brings to brilliant culmination the themes John Edgar Wideman has developed in fourteen previous acclaimed books. It is a story of bridges -- bridges spanning the rivers of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, bridges arching over the rifts that have divided our communities, our country, our hearts. Narrated in the bluesy voices of its three main characters, Two Cities is a simple love story, but it is also about the survival of an endangered black urban community and the ways that people discover for redeeming themselves in a society that is failing them. With its indelible images of confrontation and outrage, matched in equal measure by lasting impressions of hope, Two Cities is a compassionate, lacerating, and nourishing novel. (Publisher’s summary)

Friday, February 2, 2018

Friday Reads: The Happiness Project

Today's Friday Reads feature is Kelly Clever's current book, The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin.

"I first read this book several years ago, but it's my book club's February pick, so I'm giving it a re-read. Rubin dedicated a whole year to systematically improving her happiness. Each chapter chronicles a month in the year and whatever 'theme' she picked to work on in that month. She researched the literature on happiness to guide her efforts in different aspects of her life (a lady after a librarian's own heart). While this book focuses on Rubin's own happiness project, tailored for her circumstances and interests, she also brings in the perspectives and experiences of many other people. I think anyone could take away some useful ideas from even just skimming this book. Happiness has a spillover effect on those around us, so working on our own lives and happiness levels can make the world a brighter place."

Thursday, February 1, 2018

February DVD Spotlight: Romantic Films

With Valentine's Day nearly upon us, it's a good time to highlight some of the many romantic films in the Reeves Memorial Library DVD collection.  All through the month of February, we're featuring the best in silver screen romance, from classics like Casablanca (1942) and West Side Story (1961), to contemporary favorites like Titanic (1997), The Wedding Singer (1998) and Pride & Prejudice (2005).

Other featured titles include:

Brief Encounter (1945)
This classic British tearjerker tells the story of a housewife and a married doctor who meet in a railway station cafe and fall deeply in love, even though they know their love is impossible.

Bull Durham (1988)
Sports and romance meld perfectly in this hilarious film about an aging minor league catcher who is brought in to "mature" a young pitching prospect, and who falls for a local baseball groupie.

Her (2013)
In this fascinating glimpse at humans' relationship with technology, a lonely, recently-divorced writer falls in love with his artificially intelligent operating system.

In the Mood for Love (2000)
This gorgeous romantic period drama, directed by the great Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai, chronicles the relationship between two neighbors who realize their spouses are having an extramarital affair.

The Princess Bride (1987)
This cheeky, beloved fairy tale movie has it all: true love, giants, pirates, kidnapping, sword fighting, deception, revenge, rescues, and, yes, kissing.

Sweet Land (2005)
In this underseen gem, a young German mail order bride travels to post-WWI Minnesota to marry a Norwegian immigrant farmer, and the two fall in love as they struggle to overcome prejudice and injustice.

Trouble in Paradise (1932)
A mischievous, sophisticated romantic comedy about a thief and a pickpocket who fall in love, then scheme to rob a beautiful perfume company executive.

Check one out today, and watch it with someone special.