If you haven’t experienced classical crossover vocalist Josh Groban, you should check out his new Awake Live CD. Featuring his incredible talent, and backed up by a full band replete with orchestral and choir members, this 27-year-old artist’s newest CD/DVD set is one you shouldn’t miss.
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Welcome to “We Recommend”, a dynamic source of book, movie, and music recommendations from your friends at the Mount Prospect Public Library! Each week we will take turns sharing some of our favorites from the collection. We’ll even give you catalog links within the entry so that you can “taste and see” for yourself. We would love to hear your opinions in the comments, so be sure to tell us if you agree, disagree, or have similar suggestions of your own.
Young Lawrence is convinced that our galaxy is slowly but steadily being drawn into a black hole. It is understandable why he might fixate on this, as it closely parallels his daily struggle to keep his own small family from the darkness that threatens. When We Were Romans is the tale of a mother’s decision to move her son and daughter to Rome to escape her fears and find a fresh start. Reminiscent of Christopher’s narrative in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, prizewinning author Matthew Kneale engages nine-year-old Lawrence to describe his adventures entirely within his own perceptions. By turns charming and tragic, When We Were Romans creates an empathy that will bring both smiles and heartbreak.
When failed governess Guinevere Pettigrew answers an advertisement for a position as social secretary to singer Delysia Lafosse, she has no idea what is in store. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a lighthearted romp featuring a colorful cast of characters and pitch-perfect performances. Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) is hired to help Delysia (the irrepressible Amy Adams) juggle the three men she is seeing in her pursuit of stardom, luxury, and affection. Thrown into situations quite different from her own sheltered life, Miss Pettigrew discovers talents she didn’t know she possessed and even finds herself noticed by a sophisticated businessman. Also starring Ciarán Hinds and Lee Pace, Miss Pettigrew is a fun contemporary spin on the classic screwball comedy.
Summer heat, smog, and the pressures of contemporary youth in Japan provide a gritty backdrop for Natsuo Kirino’s feminist crime noir. Toshi Yamanaka awakens to what she later discovers is the murder of her next-door neighbor by the woman’s teenage son. When the boy steals Toshi’s phone and begins calling her friends, the girls become embroiled in his getaway through an escalating series of bad decisions. Real World is a disturbing portrait of angst and emotion so intense that the characters seek even the horrific to provide release. Winner of several premier literary awards in Japan, Kirino offers a chilling extreme in tales of disaffected youth.
In an economic climate wherein more and more students are seeking affordable alternatives in continuing education, community colleges are feeling the strain. Discounted Dreams: High Hopes and Harsh Realities at America’s Community Colleges, a 2007 production distributed by PBS Home Video, examines the opportunities and frustrations of the fastest growing segment of American higher education. Inadequate funding drives these institutions to focus more on building new enrollment than ensuring program completion. As a result, though community colleges boast more than fifty percent of all undergraduates, they fail to graduate even half of those students. Following the stories of representative students, Discounted Dreams illustrates both the benefits and the burdens of community college programs. Even while celebrating the successes, this documentary provides a bracing wake-up call to all who value the right to an education.
When the world is too much with us, we all can appreciate the need to seek respite. Doesn’t it only make sense that some of the most put-upon heroines in literature might also need to get away from the drama? In The Heroines, Penny Entwhistle and her mother run a bed-and-breakfast for a rather unusual clientele. Scarlett O’Hara, Emma Bovary, and Franny Glass are among the guests, and Penny’s mom does her best to soothe their wounded spirits without divulging what awaits in the chapters they have yet to experience. When thirteen-year-old Penny has an encounter of her own in a nearby wood, the resulting confusion leads to her commitment in a psychiatric ward. Will Penny compromise a heroine to save herself? In her debut novel, Chicagoan Eileen Favorite gratifies those who have ever wished to interact with the tragic heroines of great books – and perhaps even wished to be one.
One of the most sweetly satisfying movies you will ever see, Dear Frankie is funny, touching, and original. Frankie is a boy who has not had an easy life, but one of his few joys is writing to and receiving letters from his seafaring father. What Frankie doesn’t know is that the letters are secretly written by his mother (Emily Mortimer), who arranges for them to be posted from different towns. When her son hears that his father’s ship is expected, well-meaning Lizzie decides to hire a handsome stranger (Gerard Butler) to pose as Frankie’s dad for a day. Of course, nothing follows exactly according to plan, and the connections formed will change all of their lives. Director Shona Auerbach styles an affecting debut, and the film deservedly earned several audience awards. Do yourself a favor and let this engaging film find a place in your heart.
Few studios can boast the impeccable track record of Pixar Studios, arguably a touchstone of storytelling and filmmaking. This summer’s universally acclaimed release of Wall-E is a prime example of the studio’s success in creating entertainment with enough whimsy and resonance to enthrall both children and adults. What you may not realize, however, is what a long and winding road it was before the dream of a full-length computer animated film could be realized. The Pixar Touch is a tribute to the making of a company and its ground-breaking success. Reaching from the prototypical start in a garage to the very complicated relationship with the Walt Disney Company, David A. Price’s book is a testament to the technical and creative genius that has revolutionized animation, transforming it from a novelty to an art form.
Feeling much like the new girl in school, young wife Cornelia moves from the city life she knows to unfamiliar suburbia. Almost immediately she encounters two women who will become indelible parts of her world: formidable Piper, the self-appointed guardian of the neighborhood, and savvy Lake, a single mother with an extraordinary son and a vague past. In Belong to Me, Marisa de los Santos skillfully weaves these three families into an evocative fabric of secrets and vulnerability, strength and survival. Struggling to balance cherished dreams with the painful crises that interfere is what defines their futures, especially as each seeks to belong without losing herself. Belong to Me is rich and rewarding, with vivid characters that will be with you long after the book is closed.