Need a vacation? Let the honeyed voice of Edoardo Ballerini whisk you to a remote Italian villa in Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. Entwining the past story of a bewitching extra on the set of Cleopatra with that of contemporary film production team, this Audie Award-winner offers a fascinating mental getaway.
Check It Out
The Happiest Millionaire is a favorite lesser-known Disney musical that offers toe-tapping charm. Fred MacMurray is a wealthy father who keeps pet alligators in his mansion and hosts a Bible-and-boxing club in the stables. Lesley Ann Warren, Greer Garson, and the irrepressible Tommy Steele add to the family fun.
Both electric and acoustic strains of the country music scene are showcased in the series soundtracks The Music of Nashville, Volume 1 and Volume 2, and it’s the original songs that make an impact. The best are the sweet yet sultry duets, especially those featuring newcomer Clare Bowen, but there’s something for every mood.
Summertime begs a soundtrack that can back both active afternoons and sultry evenings. For a fun, bluesy, energizing mix, try Marcia Ball’s Peace, Love & BBQ. The influence of her Texas/Louisiana upbringing gleams in the pep of her piano and in her soulful singing. Just try to sit still!
Canadian series Slings & Arrows is must-viewing for anyone with a weakness for theater. Each season showcases the staging of a Shakespeare play that finds its themes oddly paralleled in the current cast’s shenanigans. An entertaining blend of broad comedy and poignant life lessons played by a masterful cast.
Cathleen of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni:
No one noticed the first rumble. Lost in thought while waiting in line for visas, a diverse group of nine individuals had no idea their fates were entwined. When the earthquake hits, they find themselves trapped in the basement of the foreign consulate with no escape, little food, dwindling oxygen, and water beginning to seep in through the floor. It isn’t long before tensions lead them to turn on each other, until one suggests they distract themselves by each sharing an important story — one amazing thing — from his or her own life. The tales are heartbreaking, inspiring, and vulnerable, and they illustrate the transcendent power of story as well as the quiet miracles that have the power to transform our lives.
The Flight of Gemma Hardy transports the story of Jane Eyre to twentieth-century Iceland and Scotland, successfully honoring the source material while still offering a few surprises. The graceful, lilting narration of reader Davina Porter perfectly renders Gemma’s progression from neglected waif to independent young woman.
Being a telepath is a distinct advantage when you work as a police interrogator, but being an ex-addict means you get questioned, too – even when you foresee your own death. Clean by Alex Hughes is an escapist adventure perfect for when you need to get out of your own head.
Anyone who has felt the pain of an abrupt break from an inseparable friend will empathize with Pen, Will, and Cat in Falling Together. A plea to reunite after a six-year silence prompts a life-changing journey, one that is explored with characteristic insight and eloquence by author Marisa de los Santos.
In the mind-bending Mirage, Gregory Peck finds himself in a blacked-out office building with no memory of the past two years. The mysterious Diane Baker seems to know him well, and he hires PI Walter Matthau to discover why sinister gunmen are shadowing him. Suave ‘60s storytelling with a Hitchcockian feel.