Spotlight: Christina Ricci

Spotlight: Christina RicciAt 28 years old, Christina Ricci has starred in over 40 movies. Watch her grow up from child star to serious actress in her twelve movies available at the library. Her lighter roles include The Addams Family (1991), Addams Family Values (1993), Casper (1995), Now and Then (1996), Anything Else (2003) and Penelope (2008). Ricci had heavier roles in The Ice Storm (1997) – her breakout adult role, The Opposite of Sex (1998), Sleepy Hollow (1999), The Man Who Cried (2000), Monster (2003), and Black Snake Moan (2006). She came full circle with Speed Racer (2008) – a family film out today on DVD.

Eva Moves the Furniture by Margot Livesey

Eva Moves the Furniture by Margot Livesey (2001)
Different in tone from her alarming psychological tales (Homework, The Missing World), this novel is a deceptively simple coming-of-age story set in Scotland in the early 1900s. Eva’s mother dies giving birth to her and she is raised by her father and her practical Aunt Lily. Eva is a woman whose life is accompanied by invisible "companions" whose “guidance” is both helpful and harmful. Eva’s relationship with them is colored by both humor and melancholy. This isn't a ghost story, but rather a love story of the best kind.

The 8:55 to Baghdad by Andrew Eames

The 8:55 to Baghdad: From London to Iraq on the Trail of Agatha Christie by Andrew Eames (2005)
Author Eames is in Aleppo, Syria, when he hears a reference to Agatha Christie coming regularly to Aleppo to "have her hair done." Knowing nothing of Christie's first visit to the Middle East and her many subsequent trips with her second husband, an archeologist, Eames reads up on Christie and the history of the paths of the Orient Express and Taurus Express that took her on her original trip. The book is full of the trials on traveling by train in the twenty-first century, the many interesting people along the way and the often fascinating history and culture of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. It will make you want to come right back to the library and check out the books (or see the DVDs) of Murder on the Orient Express and Murder in Mesopotamia.

Two Family House

Two Family House (1999) R
Buddy Visalo gets out of the army in 1945 and has only one dream--to be his own boss. But his wife and neighbors in his Italian neighborhood think Buddy should keep things the way they are. Then Buddy buys a two family house with the plan of turning the downstairs into a neighborhood bar and living upstairs. Buddy is a wonderful, big-hearted man with whom it's a pleasure to spend time.

Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews

Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews (2001)
Savannah Blues is a light, fun read with a touch of learning about antique pickers. Follow Eloise "Weezie" Foley as she deals with a huge estate sale, eccentric relatives, a sexy ex-boyfriend, and her ex-husband. Love can be better the second time around.

Check out an interview with the author, read an excerpt, and glance over discussion questions. Also visit the author's website to learn more.

Mostly Martha = Bella Martha

Mostly Martha = Bella Martha (2001) PG
Martha is the chef who obsesses over each dish before it leaves the kitchen. When her sister suddenly dies, Martha adopts Lina, her eight-year-old niece and gets unexpected help from Mario, Martha's hunky new sous chef who is as carefree as Martha is cautious! Loved the musical score.

This film was re-made in the US with the title No Reservations (2007), starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson and Jenny Wade.

In German with English subtitles.

Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King

Brunelleschi's Dome: how a Renaissance genius reinvented architecture by Ross King (2000)
This book describes how a fifteenth-century goldsmith and clockmaker, Filippo Brunelleschi, came up with a unique design for the dome to crown Florence's magnificent new cathedral, Santa Maria del Fiore.

With the excitement of the Renaissance as a backdrop, author King tells the whole story from Florence. Brunelleschi’s bitter, ongoing rivalry with the sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti to the near capture of Florence by the Duke of Milan.

To help you make this journey back to fifteenth century Florence, King includes lots of fascinating detail; the traditions of the brickmaker’s art, the daily routine of the artisans laboring hundreds of feet above the ground as the dome grew ever higher, the problems of transportation and the power of the guilds.

More Yoga for the Rest of Us

More Yoga for the Rest of Us (2004)
This DVD modifies the benefits of Yoga for everyone. If you have never tried Yoga, that’s okay. Instructor Peggy Cappy guides you through stretches, balancing exercise and easy strength training moves that accommodate seniors and citizens of all stages of fitness. The guided relaxation segment at the end “de-stresses” your mind and body. Yoga gets better the more you do it. In fact, it can be a good addiction.

Goodbye, She Lied by Russ Hall

Goodbye, She Lied by Russ Hall (2007)
In a tiny Texas town, Esbeth Walters enjoys her vocation as amateur detective. The local police find her an annoying, old busybody. In this zippy adventure, Esbeth takes on conmen and scams. A particular rest home loses guests a little too predictably, a murder is ruled a suicide, and two mean Vegas hitmen give Esbeth visions she’d rather not see.

As a retired schoolteacher, Esbeth has been well-trained in dealing with problems and problem children. Such an offbeat character makes reading mysteries down home fun.

Becoming Jane

Becoming Jane (2007) PG
Anne Hathaway stars in this beautifully filmed movie about Jane Austen. This love story about young Jane and her intense attraction to a young, cocky and arrogant Irish fellow plays out like the very best Jane Austen novel. The movie starts slowly and then the chemistry between the two draws the viewer in as it builds to an emotional ending. This was a very good movie and as a tagline for the movie says, “Jane Austen’s greatest love story was her own.”

Also starring James McAvoy, Julie Walters, and Maggie Smith.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman (1995)
Three generations of a family form the core of this novel. Sisters, Gillian and Sally, are raised by their aunts Frances and Jet, also sisters. Sally’s two daughters, Antonia and Kylie, create the third generation. Magical realism is woven into the storyline which focuses on the issues of fate, trust, love, sibling rivalry, and family ties. I highly recommended Practical Magic for readers of multigenerational tales, magical realism, and stories where love, both romantic and between family members, can conquer all.

The movie has much more “magic” to show off the special effects department.

The Man Who Loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke

The Man Who Loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke (2006)
If you've read or seen the Jane Austen books/movies, you will like this witty, suspense-driven story about Jane Austen. Contemporary and historical alternating settings make for an enjoyable story. If you do not know Mr. Darcy and the other Jane Austen characters, you’ll still enjoy the novel, but you may not get the references to Austen’s novels. Fast, fun, female read for all Jane Austen's fans and new readers.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007) R
In this hilarious, over-the-top, often off-color, send up of pop star bios, John C. Reilly plays Dewey Cox from his early struggles as a rockabilly crooner through his Dylan period to meditating with John, Paul, George, and Ringo in India. Reilly is perfect as the none too bright Dewey--but he can sing!

Lost in America by Sherwin Nuland

Lost in America: A Journey with My Father by Sherwin Nuland (2003)
National Book Award winner (for How We Die) and renowned surgeon, Nuland recounts his anguished relationship with his debilitated, angry, Jewish father. At one time, Nuland was so embarrassed by his father, he even changed his name. But as Nuland ages, the depth of his love and his empathy for his immigrant father surface. Nuland is a good writer, and this book helps him come to terms with his relationship with his now deceased father.

Read a BookPage interview or a New York Times review.

Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb

Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb (1997)
A great mystery for science fiction fans! The entire story takes place at a science fiction convention. I found the setting and the characters believable. It is just as enjoyable as McCrumb’s Ballad series.

Plus, how can you resist a title like Bimbos of the Death Sun?