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The Choice

The Choice book coverNicholas Sparks’ latest novel The Choice examines the long-term impact of several individual choices made in the lives of Travis Parker and Gabrielle Holland.  Travis is a North Carolina veterinarian who loves his life as a bachelor and is determined never to settle down with any one woman.  When Gabby moves in next door, however, sparks fly.  Both have to decide what role they want the other to play in their lives, and eleven years later we see the consequences of their decisions when Travis is faced with one of the most difficult choices of all.

Sharyn McCrumb

Sharyn McCrumb author photoSharyn McCrumb is a bestselling mystery author who has received the Chaffin and Plattner Awards for Southern fiction, in addition to many other honors. She launched her acclaimed Appalachian Ballad novel series with If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O.  “My books are like Appalachian quilts,” says Ms. McCrumb. “I take brightly colored scraps of legends, ballads, fragments of rural life, and local tragedy, and I piece them together into a complex whole that tells not only a story, but also a deeper truth about the culture of the mountain South.”  Ms. McCrumb has been writer-in-residence at King College in Tennessee and Shepherd College in West Virginia, and she has lectured at universities and libraries throughout the United States and Europe. She lives and writes in the Virginia Blue Ridge.  Her most recent book is Once Around the Track.

Thank You for Smoking

Thank You for Smoking DVD coverJason Reitman’s satirical film Thank You for Smoking was released in 2006 by Fox Searchlight Productions.  The movie stars Aaron Eckhart as Nick Naylor, the chief spokesman for a tobacco lobby whose job it is to research links between smoking and health.  The lobby fails to find any links between the two, and Nick’s task is then to inform the public that smoking is not hazardous.  He becomes a champion of smokers’ rights.  When a new law is about to be passed which will require a skull and crossbones symbol to appear on all packs of cigarettes, Nick comes up with a plan to get actors to start smoking in movies as much as possible, just as they seemed to do in the 1920’s and 1930’s when smoking was considered suave and attractive.  According to Reitman the film is neither pro- nor anti- smoking, but rather a parody of the process of promoting or preventing smoking, as well as a thinly-veiled attack on “political correctness.”

Robert Jordan

Robert Jordan author photoRobert Jordan was born James Oliver Rigney, Jr. in Charleston, South Carolina on October 17, 1948.  He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from The Citadel in 1974, and served two tours of duty in Vietnam, earning numerous medals.  Jordan became famous with the publication of his best-selling Fantasy series, The Wheel of Time, which chronicles a magical battle between the forces of light and of darkness in a desperate and complex world.  Jordan was working on the twelfth title in the series when he died on September 19, 2007.

The Interpreter of Maladies

Interpreter of Maladies book coverJhumpa Lahiri’s Pulitzer-prize winning collection of short stories, The Interpreter of Maladies, is comprised of nine stories that detail the lives of Indians and Indian Americans.  Most of the tales describe the conflict that ensues when Indians attempt to retain their Indian cultural identity while at the same time embracing their newfound identities in America.  Though the experiences may be common among immigrants from many countries, Lahiri expertly weaves in the rich flavors of contemporary India and makes her relatable protagonists come alive with unique and engaging personalities.

Rear Window

Rear Window DVD coverThe classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller Rear Window, based on Cornell Woolrich’s short story, “It Had to be Murder”, was released in 1954 by Paramount Pictures. In it Jimmy Stewart plays L. B. Jeffries, a photographer who’s confined to his apartment after severely breaking his leg. Finding himself with nothing much to do, he begins watching the daily happenings in the courtyard outside his window. He soon begins to suspect that a man living on the other side of the courtyard has murdered his wife, and he becomes obsessed with watching the man’s apartment day and night, desperate to find proof for his suspicions. As Jeffries comes closer to solving the mystery, the tension in the film steadily increases. Considered by many critics and scholars to be one of Hitchcock’s best and most thrilling pictures, Rear Window also stars legendary actors Grace Kelly and Raymond Burr.

The Plain Janes

The Plain Janes book coverVictoria of Information Services rec0mmends The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci:

In the graphic novel The Plain Janes we learn the story of Jane.  Jane used to live in the city, until a terrorist attack left her injured and her parents afraid.  Out in the suburbs, Jane is adrift, missing both art and “John Doe”, a sketch artist left comatose by the attack.  Jane finds fellow rebels in Jane, Jayne, and Polly Jane.  The Janes pool their talents and interests to create an all-girl “art gang”, trying to express themselves and inspire their community.

Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts author photoNora Roberts was born in Silver Springs, Maryland on October 10, 1950.  It was during a blizzard in 1979 that Roberts, a stay-at-home mother, began to write.  She found she had a knack for writing and after several rejections her first novel, Irish Hearts, was published in 1981.  Her illustrious career as a romance writer has landed many of her novels at the top of the bestsellers list and her books have been published in over 35 countries.  Since 1995 Roberts has also found success with her series of romantic suspense novels published under the pseudonym J. D. Robb.  Roberts’ most recent books are Irish Dreams and High Noon.

Who Killed the Electric Car

Who Killed the Electric Car? DVD coverIn 2006 Sony Pictures Classics released the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?  The movie explores the marketing and commercialization of the first electric cars leased in the United States.  The California Air Resources Board passed the ZEV mandate in 1990 which required that car manufacturers who wished to sell cars with regular gasoline engines in the state of California to also lease a certain percentage of zero-emission cars.  The idea was that more and more zero emission vehicles would be leased and sold in the state over the next few decades, thereby jumpstarting a more ecologically-friendly automobile market.  But as the film documents, a number of forces came together that stifled and ultimately stopped the momentum of the zero emissions vehicle market, and the main question the film tries to answer is who killed the electric car and why?

Lucifer’s Hammer

Lucifer's Hammer book coverLucifer’s Hammer is a classic post-apocalyptic science fiction novel written in 1973 by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.  A California television producer decides to make a documentary series based on a newly discovered comet that is expected to pass dangerously close to Earth.  Though politicians and scientists try to assure people that there is almost no chance the comet will actually strike the Earth, many are not convinced and people begin storing food and supplies in anticipation of a great disaster, should the comet actually crash.  Much to the surprise of the scientific community the comet breaks up into several smaller comets that fall to Earth and strike countries and cities throughout the world.  The effects are ruinous, with earthquakes and tsunamis and floods destroying civilization as we know it.  Those who survive are left to try and forge a new civilization while fighting against a powerful renegade army of cannibals.