Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot (2012

After a five year wait, Heather Wells finally returns in Size 12 and Ready to Rock, the latest installment of this chick lit mystery series by Meg Cabot. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the previous three books – or, like me, you don’t remember the specifics – it’s easy to jump back into Heather’s zany life.

At 15, Heather Wells was a famous pop star who traveled the globe. At 30, she’s the assistant residence hall director at Fischer Hall (aka “Death Dorm”) in NYC. There’s another dead body and another mystery to solve, but more importantly, plenty of humor. I think I had a smile on my face for much of the novel. Escape for a few hours with this entertaining and engaging story.

To see how it all began, check out my review of Size 12 is Not Fat. And for more chick lit, check out our book list.

Harry Potter, Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey by Bob McCabe (2011)

A must read for fans of Harry Potter and also recommended for movie buffs.

Harry Potter, Page to Screen details just about every aspect of the eight films. Learn how they cast the characters (and the directors); find out how they made Hagrid so tall; read a copy of The Daily Prophet; and discover how Daniel Radcliffe filmed the underwater scenes for Goblet of Fire. The author was on set for a time, so look for interviews with several of the cast and crew, plus exclusive photographs.

This hefty tome weighs over seven pounds and is over 500 pages long. And although I read the book all the way through (over the course of a month), you don't have to. It's great to page through and browse the pictures or artwork that interests you. Find the little details such as the glossy images underlying the text and the symbols used throughout the book.

The book contains chapters on each movie, then explores the art of Harry Potter with behind-the-scenes looks at characters, locations, creatures, and artifacts. Those interested in movie-making will enjoy the detail given to costuming, prop making, digital effects, and set design. It's amazing how much work goes into each detail. And the book itself is truly a visual treat.

Are you ready for J. K. Rowling’s newest book? Put yourself on hold for The Casual Vacancy today – it’s being released at the end of September.
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Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson (2012)

Settle in and get swept away in this lush globetrotting tale set in 1942. As British fighter pilot Dominic Benson is recovering in a hospital, he is mesmerized by talented singer Saba Tarcan. The daughter of a Turkish engineer and a Welsh mother, Saba defied her family to audition for the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA). Her duties for ENSA are supplemented by a few side jobs for the British secret service

Their paths continue to cross as they travel to Cairo, Alexandria, and Istanbul to serve their country. With an engaging cast of characters and richly described settings, this is one historical novel you don’t want to miss. Read Jasmine Nights by Julia Gregson for a different perspective of World War II.

For one performer’s experiences of serving with ENSA, read this article from the BBC: here.

If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster (2011)

Do you have a mild obsession with HGTV? Not a huge fan of the Twilight craze? Then you'll probably enjoy the hilarious and often painful story of Mia and Mac and their first foray into home ownership and renovation

Mia writes Amish zombie romances for teens and shares scathing thoughts of "rival" Stephenie Meyer. She also has a deep abiding love for all things John Hughes...which proves to be her downfall. Ready to escape a crazy situation in a rental house in Chicago, Mia decides it's time to find her dream house in the suburbs. And that's when the nightmare begins.

Throughout the book, Lancaster makes several nods to Hughes and his trademarks. It's often laugh-out-loud funny. If You Were Here is a good beach read. And while I haven't read her memoirs, you can get an idea of her writing style by visiting her blog, Jennsylvania.

Check out If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster today.

 

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella (2012)

Going on vacation? Or just need to get away for a few hours? Pick up Sophie Kinsella's latest standalone novel -- it's the perfect escape.

Poppy Wyatt is the loveable heroine who, a week before her wedding, loses her antique engagement ring and her cell phone, then finds a discarded phone. And craziness and hilarity ensue.

She's desperately trying to hide the fact that she lost a family heirloom from her fiancé and his family, plus finalize wedding preparations. Oh, and that cell phone? It belongs to businessman Sam Roxton -- who doesn't appreciate Poppy interfering in his personal and professional life.

Enjoy the texts and emails between Sam and Poppy. Avid texters and Facebook users will appreciate the conversation more. And I love the footnotes -- another way for Poppy to share her wry observations. The secondary characters and the Scrabble games will bring a smile to your face. Read the novel without taking it too seriously -- suspending disbelief makes it an entertaining diversion for an afternoon.

Pick up a copy of I've Got Your Number today and get lost in this fun romance.

Adele: Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2011)

The worldwide phenomenon dazzles in this live concert at the Royal Albert Hall in her hometown of London, England. Recorded on September 22, 2011, Adele shares stories of her childhood and recent life, discusses the origins of her songs, and flat out entertains the crowd.

You’ll also see behind-the-scenes footage of Adele throughout the day leading up to the concert. Adele has an amazing voice and it is apparent here during the concert as she sings the best of her two albums plus covers a few songs. I especially enjoyed “Rumour Has It,” “Someone Like You,” and “Rolling in the Deep.” And her tribute to Amy Winehouse with Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love" was beautiful.

Find the DVD Adele: Live at the Royal Albert Hall at the library (it includes a CD of her live performances). You can also check out her CDs at the library.

Want more Adele? Tune into NBC on June 5 for an hour-long interview and concert special with Adele and Matt Lauer. Billboard.com previews the event.

Paris in Love by Eloisa James (2012)

Shakespeare professor (as Mary Bly) and romance novelist Eloisa James takes a yearlong sabbatical and moves from New Jersey to Paris with her husband (Alessandro, a professor and an Italian knight) and two children (Luca, 15 and Anna, 11).

It's difficult to describe this book. It's a memoir. A travelogue. A love letter to the City of Light. A chronicle of everyday family occurrences. But it's done in such a way that draws you in and makes you feel as if you're there alongside Eloisa and her family in Paris. Anna will steal your heart. The antics of Milo, the family dog, will leave you chuckling.

The book grew out of Facebook status updates posted during her year abroad. Each chapter starts with a brief essay and is followed by short vignettes. Some are only a few sentences long; others are lengthy paragraphs. It works.

The writing is eloquent and witty. Although the format lends itself to reading in short spurts, you won't want to put this book down!

Read Paris in Love today! Also check out a TIME Magazine interview with the author about her famous parents, her writing life, and her decision to move to Paris.

Watch the author and her husband discuss the book and see some of Luca’s snapshots of Paris in this YouTube video.

Thompson Square by Thompson Square (2010)

This husband-and-wife duo’s debut album features catchy country rock songs. You may have heard their hit single “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not” on the radio. Fun lyrics, great music, and complementary voices make Thompson Square a great album to listen to for summer.

They’ve drawn comparisons to Sugarland (and even beat them out for the 2012 Academy of Country Music's Vocal Duo of the Year), but they have a sound all their own.

Check out a review of the album from The Washington Post. Visit their website for more on Thompson Square.

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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2005)

It’s more depressing than what I usually read – and sadder than what I typically enjoy. And yet, I couldn’t put it down. As Library Journal said, “It’s hard to believe that such an inherently sad story could be so entertaining, but Foer’s writing lightens the load.”

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a rambling account from nine-year-old Oskar Schell, who is precocious, smart, and in a whole world of pain. His dad died on 9/11. When Oskar discovers a mysterious key in his dad’s closet, he embarks on a quest to solve one more riddle from his father.

Oskar is endearing and exasperating. The story is funny and sad, heartwarming and heartbreaking. The book has pages with an intimidating single block of text and pages with a single word. It is engrossing. And it made me want to hug my family.

Give this book a try – you won’t regret it.

Check the catalog for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and other books by Jonathan Safran Foer.

50/50 (2011) R

In 50/50, a serious topic gets a comedic twist. 27-year-old Adam’s world turns upside down after back pain is diagnosed as spinal cancer. From processing the diagnosis to the reactions of his friends and family, to his chemo treatments and therapy sessions, Adam is a sympathetic character who doesn’t lose his sense of humor. You will laugh and cry.

It’s based on a true story of Seth Rogen and his friend Will Reisern (who wrote the script).

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen complement each other in this bromance. Also starring Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Anjelica Huston.

Check out interviews with Joseph Gordon-Levitt from Los Angeles Times and Huffington Post. Also visit NPR for a story on the film.

The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig (2012)

Augustus Whittlesby writes dreadful (yet entertaining) poetry – and has done so for more than a decade to aid the British cause. As a spy stationed in Napoleon’s France, Whittlesby’s ridiculous ramblings provide an excellent cover. Widowed American Emma Delagardie, friend to Napoleon’s stepdaughter and cousin to the American envoy, finds herself ensconced in the Paris social scene. The pair is thrown together when the newly crowned emperor requests a masque at his manor home, Malmaison.

Between uncovering a plot to invade England, exchanging delightful letters, and discovering a mysterious weapon, Augustus and Emma embark on the adventure of a lifetime. The Garden Intrigue is a must for fans of historical fiction, plus those who enjoy mystery and romance.

Although it’s the ninth installment of the Pink Carnation series, you can jump in with this delightful concoction. If you want to start at the beginning, check out The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (and check out my review of that title here).

Join us during National Library Week on Wednesday, April 11 at 7:00pm for an appearance by Lauren Willig. She’ll talk about the Pink Carnation series, answer your questions, and sign books. Anderson’s of Downers Grove will be present to sell books. Reserve your spot today at calendar.ippl.info!

For more more books by Lauren Willing check out our catalog.
 
 

Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005) PG

Set during the 1950s, this black and white film portrays the fear present during McCarthy’s witch hunt for communists. Television newsman Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and his crew of reporters strive to accurately portray the events in the United States. Murrow goes head-to-head with standout Senator Joseph McCarthy and his House Un-American Activities Committee. Interestingly, McCarthy is not portrayed by an actor; instead, archival footage is used throughout the film.

George Clooney plays Fred Friendly, the producer of Murrow’s show. He also wrote the script and co-directed the film. It’s a mesmerizing film that makes you think. I highly recommend it.

Check to see if Good Night, and Good Luck. is on shelf.
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Hanna

Hanna (2011) PG-13
Saoirse Ronan (Atonement and The Lovely Bones) shines again in this gripping thriller. She plays the title character Hanna, a 16-year-old girl raised by her father Erik (Eric Bana) in a remote area of Finland. Her entire childhood has been spent training to be the perfect assassin. When she decides she’s ready, Hanna makes her presence known to Marissa (Cate Blanchett), the agent who murdered her mother. In a cat-and-mouse game across Europe, Hanna is chased by Marissa who is followed by Erik. And things aren’t quite as they seem.

Great cinematography, music, and scenery. But beware – there’s a lot of graphic violence. For a more in-depth look at the film, visit the Focus Features website.

The Conspirator

The Conspirator (2011) PG-13
The fascinating true story of the days and months following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln is detailed in this film from director Robert Redford. James McAvoy stars as Frederick Aiken, a decorated Civil War veteran who reluctantly takes on the task of defending boardinghouse owner Mary Surratt (Robin Wright) in front of a military tribunal. The historical details are precise, the story engaging, and the film thought-provoking.

Visit the movie’s official site for an amazing array of resources from Robert Redford’s blog, articles and reviews, cast and crew bios, and much more.
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Romancing the Stone

Romancing the Stone (1984) PG
A shy, retiring romance novelist is caught up in a real-life adventure when her sister is kidnapped. I recently discovered this comedic adventure that traverses the jungles of Columbia. There’s also a sequel – The Jewel of the Nile (though I admit I haven’t seen it yet).

Starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner (with support from Danny DeVito), Romancing the Stone is for fans of the Indiana Jones series and The African Queen.


Check out Roger Ebert’s original review.