Month: July 2012

Check It Out Blog

Nothing, but a Good Time

Monsters of Rock CD coverBig hair, unisex blush, spandex, fringe, and studded jean jackets all have something in common – they were the uniform of mega-awesome, 1980s metal bands. When you crank Monsters of Rock, you can almost see the heavy metal parking lot appear before you. Songs like Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and The Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Huricane” rev you up. Then, if you need to slow it down, Monster Ballads has your number. Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” Mr. Big’s “To Be With You,” and Whitesnake’s “Is This Love” will power ballad you into glam rock bliss.

Winners from ThrillerFest

Spiral book cover

The 2012 Thriller Awards were announced this week, and each winner is action-packed and adrenaline-fueled!

Best First Novel: Spiral by Robert McEuen 

Best Hardcover Novel: 11/22/63 by Stephen King 

Best Paperback Original Novel: The Last Minute by Jeff Abbott 

2012 ThrillerMaster: Jack Higgins 

True Thriller Award: Ann Rule

Silver Bullet Award: Richard North Patterson

Honors were bestowed on the final day of the seventh annual ThrillerFest, the annual conference of the International Thriller Writers, who also publish a monthly webzine The Big Thrill.

Very Short Strange Tales for Grown-Ups

Suddenly a Knock on the Door CD coverLike lightning in a bottle, Etgar Keret’s stories are rare, mesmerizing, and combustible.  He has a talent for turning reality and expectations inside out and then peppering them with oddball humor.  Even when it came to producing his audiobook, Keret bucked tradition.  He brainstormed a dream list of who should voice each story and personally wrote the authors and actors to ask.  The stories so intrigued the likes of Stanley Tucci, Willem Dafoe, Michael Chabon, Neal Stephenson, Nicole Krauss, Jonathan Safran Foer, Aimee Bender, and Dave Eggers that they agreed!  Enjoy a tumble down the rabbit hole and hear their performances on Suddenly, A Knock on the Door.

A Rock and Roller and the Written Word

Patti Smith, the godmother of punk and author of Just Kids, owns a page of Jim Morrison’s last notebook. She also has a watercolor by Hermann Hesse, several of H.P. Lovecraft’s letters, and one of Arthur Rimbaud’s calling cards.

Below is a conversation between Smith and National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Jonathan Lethem at the Pen American Center about their love of books, collecting, and writing.

LISTS: Retro Romance

Scruples book coverPeople get hot and bothered over Mad Men’s Don Draper – what a dreamboat, right? If you’ve watched all of Mad Men and still crave 1960s’ and ‘70s’ style romance, there are plenty of books and movies to get your heart thumping and blood pumping.

Click here for more retro romance titles.

Inexpensive, Fun Furniture You Can Make Yourself

PlyDesign book coverAffordable, sleek furniture has been the trend of the decade. PlyDesign: 73 Distinctive DIY Projects in Plywood (and Other Sheet Goods) by Philip Schmidt is the do-it-yourselfer’s guide to getting that Ikea-chic look. There are easy-to-work-from designs for items as straightforward as candle holders to as complex as doghouses and laptop stands. Each inexpensive project uses only basic tools and simple materials. A checklist of materials and tools, along with painless, numbered instructions accompanies a photograph of the completed project. Additionally, diagrams will help you along the way. If you are excited about beginning furniture making or woodworking, check out PlyDesign.

Book Discussion Questions: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.


Title: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Author: Stieg Larsson

Page Count: 590

Genre: Suspense/Thriller

Tone: Dark, Gritty

Questions composed by MPPL Staff:

1.    Did you like Mikael Blomkvist?

2.    What did you view him as? A writer? A hero? A failure? Other?

3.    Do you think Blomkvist has intimacy issues? If so, are they a stumbling block for him?

4.    Does Lisbeth Salander have intimacy issues? Is so, are they a stumbling block for her?

5.    What did you think of Blomkvist and Berger’s relationship?


Once Reinvented, Eight Times Rewarded

Once: A New Musical CD cover

Remakes seem to be the norm of late, rather than the exception. To be successful, they need to bring something new to the story, and that is certainly the case with the Broadway production of Once: A New Musical. Staying true to the original, but playing with instrumentals and a cappella performances, the 2012 Tony Award winner for Best Musical (and in seven other categories, too!), enchants with beautiful stringwork and Steve Kazee’s especially soulful performance as The Guy. Since the actors also serve as the band, the collaborative effort rings with authenticity, and the international influences are enhanced. Fall slowly in love all over again with the original Broadway cast recording of Once: A New Musical.