Life with Strings Attached by Minnie Lamberth

Life with Strings Attached by Minnie Lamberth (2005)
Life with Strings Attached, Minnie Lamberth's first novel, is the winner of the Paraclete Press Award for Fiction. It is graced with strong writing and a decidedly southern charm. Set in Evergreen, Alabama, in the summer of 1972 seven-year-old Hannah Hayes is concerned with keeping her beagle Pumpkin free from the bad influences of the neighbor's dog and convincing the adults in her life that she is called to be her community's first girl preacher. Told with humor and insight this story is not sentimental, but is an authentic tale of growing up. It held me right up to the end!

Read reviews at Amazon.com and visit the author's website.

A Face in the Crowd

A Face in the Crowd (1957)
Andy Griffith’s film debut was as Lonesome Rhodes, a manipulative drifter who is put on the radio and soon becomes a national sensation. When the power hungry Rhodes finally goes too far, his manager and former lover must decide to support him or expose him. With Patricia Neal, Lee Remick, Anthony Franciosa, and Walter Matthau.

Check out TCM to view reproductions of lobby cards (promotional posters that appeared in theaters in 1957).

Duplicity

Duplicity (2009) PG-13
Starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, Duplicity can be confusing to follow because it alternates between past and present. It’s an interesting movie, building up to the best part of the film – the last 20 minutes. The ending bolsters the whole movie.

Roberts and Owen are former CIA and MI-6 operatives who work for rival beauty care companies. They plan to con their companies to make millions.

Check out the Washington Post review of the film. Visit The Huffington Post to see what other newspapers and magazines said about the movie.
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Ray

Ray (2004) PG-13
Featuring an Academy Award winning performance by Jamie Foxx, Ray details the life of Ray Charles from childhood to adulthood. It tracks his success and his journey to becoming one of the greatest musical performers of all time. It’s amazing to see what someone who is blind can achieve.

Learn more about Ray Charles at the library. Visit NPR’s site to listen to a review and to watch clips from the movie.
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Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani (2009)
A light but very entertaining book for a beach or trip read, especially if you've been or are going to Italy. Valentine, raised in a true Italian family, lives with her aging grandmother as they try to keep their family business (a high-end Italian shoe designer/ manufacturer) up and running. Love enters in for both Valentine and grandma and the ending has a twist. Chick lit, maybe, but I truly enjoyed it!

Read an excerpt and review at Bookreporter.com and visit the author's website.

Spotlight: 1939

Spotlight: 19391939 – the most celebrated year in American film history – produced more outstanding films than any other 12-month period. It was impossible for the Academy to nominate or honor all the rich, outstanding films of the year.

Some of the movies that came out that year: Gone With the Wind, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Wuthering Heights, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Wizard of Oz, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Stagecoach, Destry Rides Again, Dark Victory, Ninotchka, Beau Geste, Gunga Din, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Of Mice and Men and many others.

Quite a list, isn’t it?

TCM commemorates the 70th anniversary of Hollywood's greatest year with "39 examples of the great filmmaking that abounded in this golden era." Visit their website for more on 39 movies from 1939.

Union Pacific

Union Pacific (1939)
This epic starring Joel McCrea, Barbara Stanwyck, and Robert Preston tells the story of the building of the Union Pacific railroad which met the Central Pacific in Promontory, Utah, in 1869. There is plenty of hard-hitting action and some very impressive special effects (which garnered the film an Academy Award nomination). McCrea is the troubleshooter for Union Pacific and sees to it the company succeeds despite the efforts of Preston and his cohorts to sabotage the railroad.

It’s also a romantic triangle between McCrea, Stanwyck, and Preston. Preston loves Stanwyck but she loves McCrea. However, she agrees to marry Preston to save McCrea’s life.

Union Pacific is not the best movie I ever saw, but I enjoyed it more than any other movie I’ve seen this year. Somehow this movie has been overlooked, probably because it came out in 1939, which is certainly the most celebrated year in American film history.

Check back on Friday for a more about the movies of 1939.

The Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone

The Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone (2009)
Twenty-seven year old Annie Goode, a Navy pilot, returns to her North Carolina home for her birthday just in time for a twister to hit and her long lost father Jack to contact her and beg her to fly his old plane to St. Louis. Jack is always one step ahead of the law and an accomplished con man, so Annie is reluctant to follow his wishes, except that he holds out to Annie her own one greatest wish--the name of her father. This is a picaresque adventure complete with Cuban mobsters, the FBI, handsome Miami cops, and an elusive golden statue called The Queen of the Sea. Maybe a bit long, but if you enter into the story, well worth the time.

Preview an excerpt at NPR, check out the Washington Post's review, and read an interview with the author.

Moulin Rouge!

Moulin Rouge! (2001) PG-13
The opening scene of this movie is a frenetic, whirling burst of lights, colors, and music! But try and stick with it because it is one luscious movie!

As the story goes, Christian, an impoverished writer, comes to Paris and falls in with Toulouse-Lautrec and the Bohemians of Montmartre, which leads us all to a merry romp at the Moulin Rouge. Christian meets Satine, the club's star and a beautiful courtesan. When he falls head-over-heels in love with her, a dangerous love triangle begins!

Ewan McGregor is terrific as Christian, Nicole Kidman is perfect as Satine, and they sing and dance! Visit About.com to find more about the movie, the stars, and the music.

Ordinary Heroes by Scott Turow

Ordinary Heroes by Scott Turow (2005)
The son of a WWII veteran tells a story of what he found out about his Dad's military service in WWII. His dad never talked about WWII and believed in living in the present because he did not want to remember his military service or relate it to his children.

You'll enjoy the suspense of the story. Not a tedious war story, but a human story about the moral decisions made in the midst of gruesome reality. I am the daughter of a WWII veteran and the niece of four WWII veterans who never talked about the war. Therefore, this story interested me, but the grit of the war's reality was disturbing. As the characters in this story led full successful lives after WWII, so did their children; the same has been true of my family members.

Preview the book, read reviews at Amazon.com, and visit the author's website for more information.

The Village Barbershop

The Village Barbershop (2008) R
Art Leroldi (John Ratzenberger, Cliff from Cheers) is a widowed barber who loses his business partner and is in danger of losing his business. Into his world comes a determined young woman named Gloria, a registered beautician, and better yet, someone who can do Art's bookkeeping.

Slowly the cranky barber opens up to Gloria, and new lady love, and the possibility of operating a moneymaking business. A familiar story, but one told in a straightforward and refreshing way. A feel good movie.

Matthew Shardlake series by C. J. Sansom

Matthew Shardlake series by C. J. SansomSet in the reign of Henry VIII, these novels bring to life the sounds and smells of Tudor England. Matthew Shardlake, the lawyer renowned as the sharpest hunchback in the courts of England, finds himself entangled in the intrigues of the Tudor court, and the dangerous schemes of Thomas Cromwell, the feared vicar-general.

In Dissolution (2003), under the orders of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent throughout the country to investigate the monasteries and ultimately get rid of them.

In Dark Fire (2004), Shardlake must find a lost cache of dark fire, a legendary substance which was used by the Byzantines to destroy Arab navies.

In Sovereign (2007), Shardlake becomes a part of Henry VIII’s Royal Progress to the farthest reaches of his realm and becomes involved in murder.

In Revelation (2008), Matthew Shardlake must find the perpetrator of a series of horrific murders with connections to the dark prophecies of the Book of Revelation.

Sansom, who has a PhD in history and was an attorney, writes with wonderful attention to period detail and an artful handling of suspense.

The Wrestler

The Wrestler (2008) R
See Mickey Rourke’s Oscar nominated performance as Randy “The Ram” Robinson. He does a great job in his portrayal of Ram. The movie shows what goes on behind the scenes in the world of wrestling. Marisa Tomei (also Oscar nominated for her supporting role) plays a stripper mom with a heart. Good performances; good movie.

Also check out the reviews from Roger Ebert and The New York Times.
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Songs of the Civil War by The 97th Regimental String Band

Songs of the Civil War, Volume 1: Battlefields and Campfires by The 97th Regimental String Band (1990)
Abraham Lincoln once said that there could be no army without music. This patriotic CD stirs up the ghosts of the Civil War with lively renditions of many classics. These include marches such as "The Bonnie Blue Flag" and "The Battle Cry of Freedom" that were sung in the battlefields as well as mournful ballads such as "Just Before the Battle, Mother" and "Coming to us Dead" that were sung around the campfires.

The 97th Regimental String Band brings new life to these American standards with their instruments that give the tunes an authentic 19th century sound. A love of music connects generations, and we can learn a lot about the past by listening to it, literally. History buffs as well as enthusiastic music lovers will enjoy this CD that will help the listener gain a deeper appreciation for the soldiers who risked everything for what they believed in.
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Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan (2008)
The time is post-WWII in the 1940s. The place is a Mississippi cotton farm. The story is about two families: landowners and sharecroppers. It’s extremely informative about the poverty that existed for people in the South after WWII. This is an interesting story of choices people make which turn out good and bad.

Read an excerpt, view reviews and a reading guide at BookBrowse.com and visit the author's website.