Check It Out

Check It Out Blog

The Envy of Elephants

Woman Who Can't Forget book coverCan you remember where you were last Thursday?  How about what you were doing a year ago on this date?  Most of us would be doing well to recall the last week or two with some clarity, but imagine if your mind captured every day in overwhelming detail.  Welcome to the world of Jill Price, who is simply incapable of forgetting any day of her life.  Given a date, she can tell you what she ate, what she heard, and what was going on in the world.  It may seem like a parlor trick, but this is no joke.  Just as she might easily relive her joys and triumphs, she also cannot escape her embarrassments and heartbreaks.  Author Bart Davis has partnered with Price in writing her memoir, The Woman Who Can’t Forget: The Extraordinary Story of Living with the Most Remarkable Memory Known to Science.  Part life story, part study of how memory works, this book shows both the personal and scientific struggles to understand a fascinating aspect of the human brain.

The Laws of Money, The Lessons of Life

Laws of Money Lessons of Life book coverNasreen of Information Services recommends The Laws of Money, The Lessons of Life: Keep What You Have and Create What You Deserve by Suze Orman:

In her book The Laws of Money, The Lessons of Life, Suze Orman advises the reader how to make decisions based on personal needs and gives good advice on life.  Her suggestions include the following: recognize that truth leads to power, look at what we have now instead of what we used to have, do what is right for ourselves before we do what is right for our money, invest in the known before the unknown, and remember that money has no power of its own.  This is a book that will appeal to both young and old alike.

Make It Work!

Project Runway DVD coverYou need not be a fashionista to appreciate the sheer ingenuity showcased on the Bravo TV series Project Runway.  Each season supermodel Heidi Klum hosts a mixed group of hopefuls competing to be named the next great American fashion designer.  This is not your standard reality show, but one that rewards real talent and resourcefulness.  Contestants create high-fashion gowns from grocery store purchases, garden supplies, and recycling waste.  Other times it is the client that defines the task, and designers create not only for red-carpet celebrities, but for Barbie dolls, dogs, Olympic athletes, postal workers, and even each other’s mothers.  Whether constructing garments from items in their apartments or re-inventing the clothes literally off their backs, the participants combine originality and skill to design a production that is completely addicting.

The Secret of Lost Things

Secret of Lost Things book coverThe Arcade, a rare and used book emporium in New York, does not limit its colorful characters to the titles on sale.  The store manager is an albino, the cashier is a motherly transsexual, and new employee Rosemary is an eighteen-year-old orphan who just emigrated from Tasmania.  In The Secret of Lost Things, Sheridan Hay creates a rich and eccentric world in which interactions fold into both a coming-of-age story and a literary mystery.  When Rosemary is asked to help read store correspondence, she is piqued by a reference to an unpublished Herman Melville manuscript.  Realizing this might provide opportunity to draw closer to her coworker crush, she agrees to secret meetings and surreptitious research.  What she uncovers is a purpose and a perspective she hadn’t anticipated.

A Puzzling Mystery

Fatal Deduction book coverLibby Keating’s quiet life is shaken when she literally trips over a dead man on her front porch.  Even more ominous is the blank crossword puzzle left with him that is addressed to her twin sister.  Fatal Deduction by Gayle Roper is the latest book to feature crossword clues to doubly involve the reader in the solution of the mystery.  The Crossword Murder is the first of the Nero Blanc series which pairs crossword editor Belle Graham and PI Rosco Polycrates.  Begin Parnell Hall’s series with A Clue for the Puzzle Lady and include the recent release The Sudoku Puzzle Murders.  Fans of the number game may also enjoy The Sudoku Murder by Shelley Freydont and Death by Sudoku by Kaye Morgan.

Speaking of puzzles, there is still time to “Get in the Game – Read!” with the summer reading program.  Complete a BINGO card and spin our wheel to determine which prize (books, puzzles, games) you win in addition to entering the grand prize drawings.

Books That Will Speak to You

Tallgrass book coverEven for those of us who cherish the feel of a book in our hands, there are wonderful advantages to be enjoyed through audiobooks.  Whether you take a great story along on a summer walk, road trip, daily commute, or during household chores, you’ll find the time flies in the midst of expert narration and character nuances.  June is Audiobook Month, and what better way to join in the fun than to check out recent winners of the 2008 Audies, awards given for the best audiobooks of the year?

Fiction: Tallgrass (Sandra Dallas) – read by Lorelei King
Literary Fiction: Tree of Smoke (Denis Johnson) – read by Will Patton
Thriller/Suspense: Heart-Shaped Box (Joe Hill) – read by Stephen Lang
Mystery: The Tin Roof Blowdown (James Lee Burke) – read by Will Patton
Romance: Natural Born Charmer (Susan Elizabeth Phillips) – read by Anna Fields
Narration by the Author: Pontoon – written and read by Garrison Keillor
Nonfiction: Roots (Alex Haley) – read by Avery Brooks
Biography and Memoir: Einstein (Walter Isaacson) – read by Edward Herrmann

Grace Is Gone

Grace is Gone DVD coverIt is difficult enough to cope with one’s own heartbreak, but what do you do when you have to break your children’s hearts as well?  In Grace is Gone, Stanley Phillips is a hardworking and idealistic man whose wife is serving in Iraq.  When he learns that his wife has been killed, he cannot bring himself to tell his two young daughters.  Instead, he impulsively takes them on a road trip during which he struggles to accept what has happened and to find the words that must be spoken.  John Cusack delivers a mesmerizing performance, utterly convincing even from the first routine moments of the film.  Written and directed by James C. Strouse, with music by Clint Eastwood, and distributed by the Weinstein Company, Grace is Gone is a stirring portrait of character and of family.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Susan Elizabeth Phillips author photo“I started to write completely by accident,” explains bestselling author Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  Simply stated, one day she and her best friend decided it would be fun to try to write a book together.  The market was ripe, and the two received an offer from the first publisher they contacted.  Phillips discovered she really enjoyed writing and continued on her own.

Soon after relocating to Chicago, she found her niche in contemporary romantic comedies such as Fancy Pants, Hot Shot, and Honey Moon.  The first in her extremely popular Chicago Stars series, It Had to Be You, features a woman who knows nothing about sports but who inherits a professional football team.  The most recent, Natural Born Charmer, was named the Outstanding Romance of 2007 by the American Library Association.  Phillips is the only five-time winner of the Romance Writers of America Favorite Book of the Year Award, and she was inducted into the Romance Writers Hall of Fame in 2001.  Her next book, What I Did for Love, will be published in February 2009.

Sneaker Wars

Sneaker Wars book coverNowadays we are not as shocked at the prospect of athletic shoes costing hundreds of dollars.  Who knew, though, that the ideas of celebrity endorsements and the business of sport can be traced back to two brothers who couldn’t play nicely together?  In Sneaker Wars, celebrated journalist Barbara Smit tells the fascinating story of Adi and Rudi Dassler, who grew their father’s humble shoemaking business into international success.  However, it was their intense sibling rivalry that led to a split in both family and company, resulting in the establishment of competing brands Adidas and Puma.  From Adi’s determination to put his shoes on Jesse Owens during the 1936 Berlin Olympics to the continuing trend of sport shoes as fashion statements, Sneaker Wars is a look inside how the industry plays the game.

Variable Star

Variable Star book coverFor many of us, when our heart is broken, we want to put as much distance as possible between ourselves and the people who caused that pain.  Taking that quite literally, young Joel Johnston chooses to go trillions of kilometers away so that nothing will remind him of his first love and the secret she kept from him.  He enlists on the latest colony ship en route to a planet called Brasil Novo and heads for the stars, not realizing nor caring what will happen next.  Variable Star is a fantastic tale first conceived by the late master of science fiction Robert Heinlein.  Contemporary author Spider Robinson accepted the challenge of realizing that vision in a way that appeals both to long-time Heinlein fans and to those unfamiliar with the legacy.  Filled with imaginative situations and intriguing characters, Variable Star succeeds admirably.