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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.

Midnight in Paris (2011) PG-13

This is a Woody Allen film, but because he is not in the cast I put it in the DVD player and settled in. It was a delightful fantasy about Paris in the 1920s. There was nothing to dislike about it; it was a pleasure to watch.

Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams) are sort of in love, and in Paris with her parents. Gil is caught up in the romance of Paris in the springtime. A screenwriter from Hollywood, he has written a novel with visions of joining the ranks of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and the other legends of Paris in the 1920s – the perfect set up for what follows.

The film is not without a serious moment. It has a message that is purposely delivered at the end; it’s an illusion that a life different from the one we have would be much better.

Did you participate in the 2012 Big Read? We read Paula McLain's The Paris Wife. For more on the book and its related resources featuring Paris in the 1920s, visit thebigread.org.

Pick up a copy of Midnight in Paris from the library.

Annie Hall (1977) PG

This Oscar winning comedy established Woody Allen as a premier humorist, wit and inventive film maker. It’s a love story, circa the free-wheeling seventies. Diane Keaton (Annie Hall) will always be remembered as the free spirit who captures Alvy Singer’s (Allen) heart. At times the movie appears autobiographical, mirroring the life and loves of Keaton and Allen. Of course, this gives the movie a dab of notoriety.

The dialogue is intellectually witty, the best of Allen. He often speaks directly to his audience, and uses flashbacks effectively to illuminate his characters. With the release of Midnight in Paris, another Allen film, we find Woody is alive and well. Newbies to the Woody Allen cult might want to check out Annie Hall. And read a review from Roger Ebert.

While You Were Sleeping (1995) PG

This romantic comedy kicked off Sandra Bullock’s career. Filmed in and around Chicago at Christmas, we can appreciate our city in the 90s. A tad sweet, and a bit of a stretch, but a lonely woman, a mistaken identity, two handsome guys, and gingerbread characters somehow mix together to present a fun watch.

Check our catalog to find a copy of While You Were Sleeping today.

The Last Station (2009) R

This jewel of a movie takes place in Czarist Russia. Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) has a large following in his anti-materialistic movement and Paul Giamatti is their leader. Tolstoy’s wife Sofya (Helen Mirren) is an aristocrat and she is fighting Tolstoy and his followers over his money and the rights to his royalties. The conflicts are loud and raucous.

Sofya married Tolstoy, gave him 13 children, and translated and edited his works. She is not about to give him or his royalties up without everyone knowing his anguish. A subplot involves young lovers (James McAvoy and Kerry Condon). Tolstoy’s idealism and his desertion of his wife make for a fascinating story.

Check out The Last Station today!

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.
 
 

Spotlight: It Takes a Woman

Sometimes it just takes a woman to get everyone going on the right path. Each of these three light romantic stories is about a young woman who moves in, shakes things up, gets every problem straightened out, and, oh yes, finds love along the way.

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer (1950)
When practical and straightforward Sophy visits her London aunt after a lifetime on the Continent, she finds life in her aunt's house in constant turmoil. All the young people are involved with unsuitable matches, owe money to questionable personages, and in general, are in a constant state of disruption – until Sophy takes charge.

A Song for Summer by Eva Ibbotson (1998)
Young Englishwoman Ellen Carr has always dreamed of living in Austria and cooking wonderful Viennese food. She has her chance when she gets a job as housemother at an alternative school on the outskirts of Vienna. But what an alternative! The children are running wild and the teachers are all eccentric misfits. It is the late 1930s and the world is about to fall apart. Well, Ellen can't do much about that, but she can set everyone else in ship shape order.

Roommates Wanted by Lisa Jewell (2007)
Leah Pilgrim enjoys watching the comings and goings of the mismatched characters living in the rambling house across the street in her London neighborhood. But across the street Toby, owner of said house, is in despair. He wants to sell up and move away, but how can he abandon his houseful of lonely heart boarders? Leah to the rescue!

Leap Year (2010) PG

One of my favorite romantic comedies. Anna follows her heart to Dublin to propose to her perfect cardiologist boyfriend. She actually finds out what’s the most important thing to save if you’re in a fire. Shows the true Irish spirit and the photography of the Irish landscape is wonderful.

Check the catalog to see if this film is on shelf -- and celebrate leap year with Amy Adams and Matthew Goode.

The Heiress

The Heiress (1949)
Olivia de Havilland, ever luminous even in this role as a plain, shy, and somewhat socially inept heiress in mid-1800s New York, experiences romance with handsome and cultured Montgomery Clift. This wonderful actress shows us a personality shift--most noticeable to me in her voice--as she grows in realization of the painful forces at work in her relationships. The emotional punch of this 1949 film becomes most fully realized in the unforgettable final scene. The top notch cast also includes Ralph Richardson and Miriam Hopkins. Read the 1881 book by Henry James, Washington Square.

For more on the film, check out the 1949 review from The New York Times and a film article on the Turner Classic Movie website.

Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris (2011) PG-13
It was so wonderful to see this Woody Allen movie. I have seen every Woody Allen movie, but this one is in a class with Annie Hall (1977) and Sleeper (1973). The time travel element really does the trick. Paris is a perfect background. I highly recommend this film.

Did you miss your chance to see the film on the big screen?  You're in luck -- the La Grange Theatre will be showing the movie for one night in March in conjunction with the Big Read 2012. Look for the program guide around February 1 for more details!

Emma

Emma (2009)
Jane Austen's Emma is either your favorite Austen or the one you can't stand. It is my favorite, and for over ten years I have loved the Gwyneth Paltrow movie version (1996).

Then I saw the 2009 three hour BBC production with Romola Garai as Emma, and my love is pulled two ways. Garai is delightful as the well-meaning but interfering Emma. The set and costumes are beautiful and the pacing is just right. But Jeremy Northam (from the 1996 movie) will always be my favorite Mr. Knightley.

The Mermaid Garden by Santa Montefiore

The Mermaid Garden by Santa Montefiore (2011)
A real “chick flick” book. Love! Broken heart! Reunion! Going off into the sunset hand in hand…

For more good chick lit books check out these staff recommendations.

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.

Yes Man

Yes Man (2008) PG-13
My brother kept recommending this movie, and I finally watched it. Yes Man is a humorous movie about a man in a rut. He attends a “yes seminar” and it opens up new possibilities and opportunities for him. Yes Man is a good light comedic movie with laugh out loud moments.

If you like Jim Carrey, you’ll like the movie. Zooey Deschanel costars; her character is cool and funny. The actress-singer performs a lot of songs in the soundtrack. Her fictional band was in the movie (featuring real group Von Iva), which was also quite humorous.

The Thomas Crown Affair

The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) R
Debonair, self made millionaire Thomas Crown can’t help himself. He just has to have certain things of beauty such as important paintings and expensive vases. A Monet on the wall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art calls out to him, for instance. When the painting is stolen in a masterful caper, beautiful insurance investigator Catherine Banning focuses her attention on Crown, but soon finds her interest aroused by more than the idea of recovering the painting, but by the man himself. Pierce Brosnan as Thomas Crown is charming and intriguing and Rene Russo as Banning is his match.

Don’t follow the plot too closely: you could drive a Mack truck through the holes in it. But the two performers are so appealing and amusing and some of the plot twists so witty that the movie is just out and out fun to watch. I found it much more enjoyable than the over-stylized self-consciously artsy original with Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen.