Month: February 2011

Check It Out Blog

A Father-Son Spy Duo

Once A Spy book coverWandering the streets of Brooklyn in his pajamas is not the way Drummond Clark intended to spend Christmas Eve, but sometimes he gets confused.  When his son Charlie returns him home, the house explodes!  Soon the two find themselves pursued by assassins on an adrenaline-fueled cross-country adventure, and Drummond displays survival skills not many other retired appliance salesmen can boast.   Could it be that Charlie’s workaday dad was once a spy for the CIA?  A former agent struggling with early-onset Alzheimer’s is a potential disaster, and both sides want him quiet.  With short, action-packed chapters and tongue-in-cheek humor, Once a Spy by Keith Thomson is a popcorn movie in book form.

LISTS: Ska Music

Ska music logo Get out your houndstooth skirts, fedoras and skinny ties because it’s time to dance to the sounds of reggea’s crazy, upbeat cousin – ska. Feeling laid back? Try traditional ska like Desmond Dekker. In a nostalgic mood? Put your ears on the ‘80s 2-Tone group Madness. Looking for a band you can still see live? The Slackers Motown-inspired music might be for you.

For all your ska party music needs, click here.

Freight Doesn’t Talk

The Aviator DVD cover Edgar Anscombe is a loner. After a plane crash that scarred him and killed another, Edgar doesn’t want anything except for a sandwich and the open sky. He’s a pilot in the newly developed U.S. airmail service. Tillie, a spoiled flapper teen, is being shipped off to her aunt’s, only she’s not driving there – she’s packed into the cargo hold of Edgar’s aircraft (since passenger planes don’t yet exist). Neither Edgar nor Tillie are happy about this. A pre-flight check isn’t completed properly and Edgar and Tillie go down in the mountains. Will the wilderness get them or will they kill each other first? Catch Christopher Reeve in The Aviator, a family-friendly film of survival and the human spirit.

Life in the Tower of London

The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise book cover Balthazar Jones is a Beefeater (they actually prefer the title Yeoman Warder) who lives in the Tower of London with a 181-year-old tortoise.  His unusual pet makes him a perfect choice to manage the new zoo attraction being installed at the Tower.  Sometimes other countries present live animals as gifts to the Queen, and she thinks visitor numbers may improve at the Tower if it were home to the royal menagerie.  Balthazar’s wife Hebe works in the Lost Property Office of the London Underground, and you won’t believe the things that are left on the subway!  Get to know these two and a host of other unusual characters in Julia Stuart’s The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise

LISTS: Austen Admirers Who Get It Right

Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field book coverIt is a truth universally acknowledged that a reader who adores the works of Jane Austen must be in want of more.  How does a willing fan navigate the abundance of continuations and modernizations that crowd the shelves?

If you want to avoid the empty re-treads and find the Austen-inspired books that capture Jane’s spirit but also stand on their own, click here.

The Prison Library Counter

Running the Books book cover Prison libraries are both lauded as a necessary educational element of rehabilitation and criticized as a coddling of inmates. To Avi Steinberg, it was a job. For two years, Steinberg was the evening shift prison librarian at the Suffolk County House of Correction in Boston’s South Bay. His memoir, Running the Books, tells the story. Steinberg continually had to balance the idea that he worked with relatively nice patrons to the fact that these same people had been jailed for horrible crimes. Running the Books is not a story of redemption. It is an honest portrayal of a correctional system that is flawed (but trying) and the struggles of those that work and live within it.

Patty’s Pick: Detroit Disassembled

Patty staff picks photoAndrew Moore’s Detroit Disassembled documents Michigan’s crumbled industrial culture from the broken windows and rusted roof of Michigan Central Station to the mold-ridden shag carpeting at the abandoned Ford Motor Headquarters to entire brownstone ruins covered in mounds of vinery. It’s as gorgeous as it is depressing.

Send for Paul Temple!

Paul Temple and the Curzon Case audiobook cover Richard Castle may have a charisma all his own, but he’s far from the only crime novelist-turned-sleuth.  As a matter of fact, his popularity wouldn’t hold a candle to that of British private detective Paul Temple.  The invention of Francis Durbridge, Temple first appeared in a BBC radio serial in 1938 and entertained fans worldwide for over 30 years.  Often called in to help Scotland Yard with tricky cases, Paul and his wife Steve may remind you of pairings such as Dashiell Hammett’s Nick and Nora Charles or Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence Beresford.  In new recordings of these quick mysteries, actor Anthony Head brings understated drama and droll wit to the stories of the Curzon Case, the Kelby Affair, the Tyler Mystery, and the Harkdale Robbery.

LISTS: Scoundrels on the High Seas

Pirates YARRR! “There comes a time when every man feels the urge to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and start slitting throats.” Or if ye would rather keep your hands clean, there be pirate movies full of adventure, rebellion and rum. So tip up thy tricorn hat, gather your parrot and crew and keep your cutlass out in case there be talkers during the show.

Click here for a gander at our pirate movies.