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Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman

Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How it Can Renew America by Thomas Friedman (2008)
Thomas L. Friedman, winner of three Pulitzer prizes, has written another great book. Much like his last book, The World is Flat, this book looks at the big world picture and the changes and dynamics taking place. Using exhaustive research data, he paints his picture of a world where globalization, a growing population, and global warming are converging and bringing us to an alarming situation. His call is for the United States to lead the world in making far reaching changes to make our world sustainable and environmentally safe. If you enjoyed The World Is Flat, you'll find this book another winner from Friedman.

Visit the author's website, read a review at Salon.com, and listen to an interview at NPR.

Rawhide: Season 2

Rawhide: Season 2 (1959-1960)
Somehow I missed this exciting western when it was on television in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I am glad that I did, since I now have a new western television series to watch.

This TV series is one of the best I’ve ever seen. Eric Fleming brought a lot to this series, as did his young costar Clint Eastwood, along with a very able supporting cast. Some of the stories are very fresh and creative, and even the more traditional plots are done very well. Season 2 (32 episodes) has a surprising number of stories dealing with the supernatural, with almost a Twilight Zone feel. Some of the villains are females and they are very good at being very bad.

Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy

Scarlet Feather by Maeve Binchy (2001)
Slow, leisurely reading book for travelers. It's easy to pick up and put down due to being divided into 12 months of one year. Set in contemporary Ireland; the novel follows two people who begin a catering business. The story develops around the families and friends of Cathy and Tom.

Preview the book before you visit the library and read reviews of the book at Amazon.com.

27 Dresses

27 Dresses (2008) PG-13
This entertaining love story stars Katherine Heigl and James Marsden. Jane (Heigl) loves weddings – and she’s been a bridesmaid 27 times to prove it. But then her sister gets engaged to George, who Jane is secretly in love with. And that’s when the fun begins. Will Jane finally graduate from being a bridesmaid to being a bride?

One of the highlights from the movie is when Jane modeled her bridesmaid dresses from the various weddings; it was fun to see the different styles. You don’t want to miss it!

The Soul of Baseball by Joe Posnanski

The Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip through Buck O’Neill’s America by Joe Posnanski (2007)
Buck O’Neill is a famous player and manager from the Negro Leagues. The author accompanied O’Neill for a year as he traveled around the country promoting the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. O’Neill shared many anecdotes, some funny and some sad, from his life and from his time around baseball.

Read a PBS interview with Buck O'Neill and check out the blog dedicated to the memory of Buck O'Neill.

Cassandra’s Dream

Cassandra’s Dream (2007) PG-13
Cassandra’s Dream is similar to Hitchcock films, with a lot of twists and turns. It’s about two brothers (Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell) who are trying to get ahead but become too greedy. The consequences they have to pay are surprising. It’s a Woody Allen film, but it’s unlike any of his other films.

Check out the New York Times review.
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Spotlight: Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine

Spotlight: Ruth Rendell and Barbara VineRuth Rendell, who also writes under the name Barbara Vine, is an English bestselling mystery and psychological crime writer. Her Ruth Rendell novels are about police detective Chief Inspector Wexford, guardian of fictional south of England town, Kingsmarkham or about individual psychological suspense thrillers, with no detective and no recurring characters. She specializes in examining the inner darkness of her characters, whether they are ordinary or alarmingly aberrant. Try Murder Being Once Done, a Chief Inspector Wexford title, for a taste of this fine series.

Writing as Barbara Vine, she crafts psychological crime novels (such as A Dark Adapted Eye) which explore the minds of people who commit murder, often through obsession or social inadequacy. The Vine books maintain the theme of relationships between families by delving back into the past, which set them apart from the Rendell work.

Under either name, her novels are complex in character development and precise in sense of place. Always suspenseful and viscerally compelling, I highly recommend them.

Check back next month to read Sally’s review of The Minotaur by Barbara Vine.

Eat a Bowl of Tea

Eat a Bowl of Tea (1989) PG-13
After WWII in New York’s Chinatown, there are plenty of men, but very few women. Ben Loy is sent by his family to the family hometown in China to meet his arranged bride. Everything is great with the young couple until they return to NYC, and suddenly pressure from the community to start a family becomes too much for the young husband.

Angel’s Tip by Alafair Burke

Angel’s Tip by Alafair Burke (2008)
As a huge fan of James Lee Burke, I picked an Alafair Burke (his daughter) book more out of curiosity than anything. She has inherited her dad's gift for writing. Angel's Tip is a compelling mystery, with enough twists and turns to make it interesting, but not so many that the plot becomes unlikely. New York detective Ellie Hatcher is an interesting character, struggling with a painful family history and the old boys' club in the police department. Burke has written a strong woman character, who has grown and developed in just two books. She first appeared in Dead Connection.

Browse the book online and visit the author's blog.

Fix-it and Forget-it 5-ingredient Favorites by Phyllis Pellman Good

Fix-it and Forget-it 5-ingredient Favorites: comforting slow-cooker recipes by Phyllis Pellman Good (2007)
Love, love, love this book! I included the broccoli dish for Thanksgiving dinner for the first time. All 20 guests requested it become a permanent dish on Thanksgiving. Very easy to make.

Check out other slow cooker cookbooks at our library and visit the author's website.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2008)
At the end of WWII, writer Juliet Ashton has just published a collection of the humorous columns she wrote about London during the war. Now she is at loose ends trying to find her next project. Through a happy accident, a used book with her name in it lands on the Channel Island of Guernsey and into the hands of Dawsey Adams. Through letters to Dawsey and others on Guernsey, Juliet learns about what occupation under the Germans was like and finds the inspiration for her next book.

The story is told entirely in letters between Juliet and her many friends and is very charming. Some might feel it is a bit too charming and even sentimental, but anyone willing to enter into the time and place of the book and who enjoys quirky eccentrics will find a satisfying read. The book is reminiscent of Helen Hanff's 84 Charing Cross Road for its depiction of England right after WWII and its discussion of literature through letters from Hanff and the friends she made at a bookshop in England. For another story of the Channel Islands under German occupation, see the British miniseries Island at War.
Visit the book's website and read reviews of the book at Amazon.com.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) PG-13
A truly amazing film about the human spirit. The scenery is beautiful and the filming extraordinary. Jean Bauby, the French editor of Elle magazine, suffers a stroke and suffers from “locked-in” syndrome. He is trapped in his own body (which is useless) but his mind still functions normally. He is paralyzed except for his left eye. By blinking one letter at a time, with the help of his caregiver, he writes a memoir.

Based on Bauby’s 1997 memoir of the same name. Check out the Salon.com article to find out which parts of the movie are based in fact.

In French with English subtitles.

Double Wedding

Double Wedding (1937)
In addition to their six Thin Man movies, William Powell and Myrna Loy made many other comedies and dramas together. In Double Wedding, Loy is Margit, the controlling head of her family who has specially chosen sad-sack cousin Waldo to marry younger sister Irene. When Irene seems to be more interested in madcap Charlie Lodge (Powell), a Bohemian artist who lives in a trailer, Loy moves in to break up the supposed romance.

Orbit by John J. Nance

Orbit by John J. Nance (2006)
A private space company sends lottery winners into orbit around the earth. Through a freak accident, Kip is stranded alone, stuck orbiting the earth. He starts journaling his life on the computer, but little does he know everyone on Earth is able to read his journal.

Preview this book before you visit the library and check out the author's website.

Women and Money by Suze Orman

Women & Money by Suze Orman (2007)
Orman writes in a way that is simple and easy to follow. Get good advice on how to get your life in order and free yourself from financial burden. She mixes a lot of emotional feelings with money – a person out of debt is a happy person. Orman breaks down complicated ideas and provides easy steps you can follow.

She also makes me laugh, especially on her show. It’s pretty funny when people ask her if they should make a big purchase and she bluntly rejects that idea.

Visit the author's website and check out more from Orman on Oprah's website.